Alta Marie Kerr Shell, 81, of Pine Bluff, passed away Monday, December 16, 2013, at Davis Life Care.
Born June 30, 1932, in Mayhew, Miss., she was a daughter of the late Robert Houston Kerr & the late Georgia L. Kerr Diffey. After spending her early childhood in Miss., she moved to Pine Bluff at the age of fourteen. She attended Pine Bluff High School, graduating in 1951.
In August of 1951, she married the love of her life, Lester T. Shell. They had a wonderful and extraordinary life together. They traveled to many places and had many grand adventures, sharing over sixty years of life, love and marriage.
Marie spent the early years of her marriage tending to her young and growing family, having three sons, Randy, Mickey and Marty. When her sons were young, she was actively involved with their activities, including 4H of Jefferson County. Her family was named The Jefferson County Young Farm Family of the Year in the late 50’s. Spending most her life on a farm, she planted gardens almost every spring and canned vegetables for her family.
Deciding to follow the footsteps of her mother, she became a nurse. She attended the University of Arkansas at Monticello and later graduated from Pines VoTech with her Licensed Practical Nursing Degree in 1968.
A natural caregiver, she began her career for caring for others, working at Jefferson Regional Medical Center for several years and later for Trinity Village Medical Center, retiring in 1993.
She was also a talented seamstress and business woman. She was the owner and operator of Alta’s Outlet, a bedding and bath outlet in Pine Bluff. She made her own clothing creations from the sheets and pillow cases that she sold. She enlisted the help of her daughter-in-law and granddaughters to model the designs, promoting the patterns at home extension offices around the state of Arkansas.
She was a faithful Christian woman, a longtime member of Shell Chapel Cumberland Presbyterian Church. She was active in her church, including teaching Sunday school and helping with youth programs. She, along with her husband, served many summers at Camp Peniel, the Cumberland Presbyterian church camp, influencing the Christian upbringing of many young people over the years.
She was an accomplished musician, playing the piano and organ on many occasions at church and other functions. She passed her love of music on to her sons, insisting that they all be taught to play the piano when they were young.
Marie was always full of life and moved to the beat of her own drum. Whether it was coming up with a new culinary creation for her family or entertaining her grandchildren, she did it with a smile, love and laughter. She was always a caring, kind and loving person, opening her heart and home to anyone in need.
She was preceded in death by her parents; her loving husband of over sixty years, Lester Shell; her sister, Annie Laura Hodge; and one granddaughter, Randi Shell.
She is survived by her sons, Randy Shell, and wife, Lou Anne, Mickey Shell and wife, Joyce, and Marty Shell and Tommy Dunlap, all of Pine Bluff; her godson, Jack King, of Sherman, Texas; her grandchildren, Margaret Shell- Howsen and husband, Steven Howsen, and Michael Shell, all of Pine Bluff; her great-grandchildren, Avery Peyton, Austin Howsen and Ansley Howsen; her sister, Elsie Shanks, of Warren; along with a wealth of friends and family.
Funeral service will be held 10:00 a.m., Thursday, December 19, 2013, in the Chapel of Ralph Robinson & Son with Reverend Josh Murray officiating. Burial will follow in Shell Chapel Cemetery. The family will receive friends Wednesday from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at Robinson’s. Friends may sign the online register at www.ralphrobinsonandson.com.
Memorials may be made to Shell Chapel Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 2143 Grider Field Road, Pine Bluff, Ark.
The family will be at the home of Randy and Lou Shell, 1901 Grider Field Road, Pine Bluff.