Shirley Marie Owney of Pine Bluff is remembered as someone who lived her life in service to others.
Owney, 39, was murdered on March 23.
Her mother Dasie Owney remembers her daughter as a kind woman who put her faith in God into action by doing what she could for people in the community.
“She was a good person,” Dasie Owney said. “I’m not just saying that because she is my daughter. I tell it like it is. She would always call me and ask me if I wanted to hear some words of prayer. I would tell her yes and sometimes I’d look at the clock and it would be five in the morning. I’d say, ‘Lord, we need to get some rest child.’ She was a prayer warrior.
“She was a sweet, kind lady,” Dasie Owney said. “I really love the type of person that she was. She was always willing to come and help. A man gave her money once to go pick up some Cokes. Shirley went over to Brookshire’s and came back and handed him a 12-pack and his money. She just was a sweet person, always willing to give someone a helping hand. I know Shirley has gone to a better place. She has gone to be with the Lord.”
Sheila Owney remembers her sister as someone who loved being around people and doing what she could to help them.
“Shirley basically was the type of person who didn’t meet strangers,” Sheila Owney said. “She was friendly and easy to talk with. She was trained in social work and loved to help people. She was the peacemaker in the family. She tried to get us together to do more family-oriented things.”
Sheila Owney said that her sister’s faith was extremely important to her.
“Shirley loved the Lord and that was obvious,” Sheila Owney said. “Once she took me to Walmart at 3 a.m. I had knee surgery in 2010 and had to use a wheelchair and didn’t want to bump into people so we went late at night. I couldn’t find her for a minute but then saw that she was ministering to someone and talking about the Lord right there in the store in the middle of the night. It really tickled me but that is the kind of person that she was. She was one of those people you will never forget.
“Not only was Shirley a sister but also a friend,” Sheila Owney said. “She always had her phone line and her door open to me.”
Sharon Duncan*** is the eldest of the Owney siblings.
“Make sure people know I am an Owney,” Duncan said, worried that people wouldn’t know her family affiliation by her married name. “My sister to me was the type of person you could always count on. I call her the peacemaker. I’m the hothead, but Shirley always tried to make everything go smooth. She loved God and she loved people.
“I’m the oldest child but I only hope that I can grow to be like her,” Duncan said. “She was a real people person and talked constantly.
“Most of all she loved her daughter,” Duncan said. “She gave her life for her daughter.”
Nephew Christopher Purley remembers his aunt’s kind spirit.
“From my point of view, I say that she was a very humble person,” Purley said. “She was always the type of person that no matter what type of day she was having she had a smile on her face. She always mentioned the Lord, and if you had any troubles she would ask you to pray and would pray with you. She had a good energy about her. She may not actually know you but she would say hi to you.”
Niece Taja Purley lived in the same apartment complex as her aunt.
“Aunt Shirley was my favorite auntie and I was her favorite niece,” Taja Purley said. “I stayed upstairs from her. She was always looking to help me and always looking to help others. She was always very kind and willing to give. She was always willing to assist you with prayer and take it to the Lord.
“She was the reason I got through a lot of situations,” Taja Purley said. “If it hadn’t been for her intervening, I would have been stuck in some of those situations. She was a great inspiration in my life.”
Shirely Owney’s brother-in-law George Duncan had Christmas memories.
“During the holidays she would light up the room with her spirit,” Duncan said. “No matter how you were feeling before, you would respond positively to Shirley. She could always pick out the right gift for each person.
“She was very strong in the Word and strong in her love of God,” Duncan said. “It showed in how she lived and in how she responded to people.”
Judith Miller, owner of P. K. Miller Mortuary, is a longtime family friend.
“I knew Shirley from the time she was 2 years old,” Miller said. “From the time she was a little girl, she was always very tenacious and worked very hard. She always wanted to do well in life. She went to UAPB for her undergraduate degree and to Grambling State University in Louisiana for her graduate work.
“She was a devoted mother and always did the best for her daughter,” Miller said. “Her daughter wore braces when young black children didn’t have braces.
“She was a very religious person,” Miller said. “Her faith was very strong. She never lost her faith. This is a person who never should have died this way. That is the irony of life.”
Childhood friend Tarneisheia Johnson-Tate remembers Shirley Owney as a person who made a real difference during her life.
“Shirley Marie Owney was one of the most beautiful persons I have known during my current lifetime,” Johnson-Tate said. “She was a joy to be with, and Shirley was a leader that would take you by your hand and guide you step by step. I can recall our childhood friendship that was innocent. We had plenty of thoughts and dreams to be accomplished.
“Shirley had the determination and will to fulfill her heart’s desires with God’s approval,” Johnson-Tate said. “Her presence will be missed because she made a significant difference during her time on this earth, but her spirit lives on. Thank you, dear friend for what you have done for me and for many others.”
This article has been corrected from its original version. To view the correction notice, click here.