Memorial: Shirley Brey


By on Mon, March 6, 2006

One of the Peninsula’s and the Coastside’s strongest supporters and protectors, Shirley Brey, passed away on March 1, 2006.  We, her sons and daughters, were proud to call her “Mom”.

Shirley was a “supermom” long before the term existed.  As a mother of five children she worked full-time as an operating room nurse, served for 9 years on the Board of the Los Altos School District, played tournament tennis, and did all this without gardeners, housecleaners, au pairs, or prepared foods. 

As a mother, Shirley didn’t just teach us to love and be curious about nature – she lived it.  We went on long camping trips every summer, countless hikes, fishing trips, and spent lots of time exploring tidepools and creeks.

Awareness and appreciation of other cultures and the environment was one of the family values that Shirley embodied.  In the late 60’s and 70’s she took us to Native American Pow Wows, and we danced in the Japanese Obon Festival.  She also took us to the first Earth Day celebration in Palo Alto in 1972.

Of course, she taught us volunteerism and activism. Shirley drove for Head Start, was a Girl Scout Leader, worked in the PTA, and taught Japanese brush painting to fourth graders in the Los Altos School District.  As a member of the school board she was able to hand out junior high school diplomas to all five of us!

Shirley moved to Half Moon Bay 20 years ago, and never let up in her activism and community involvement.  She worked on Senior Housing Rehabilitation, helped to start the Neighborhood Alliance, Half Moon Bay Open Space Trust (HOST), League for Coastside Protection, and served on the Board at the Coastside Opportunity Center. 

In addition to her service to the community, Shirley still found the time and energy to be a loving grandmother to her eight grandchildren.  She had a knack for teaching important life skills to kids, such as tying shoes, hammering nails, painting, whittling with a pocket knife, and lighting matches.  She also spent countless hours cleaning, doing laundry, and babysitting. 

She said she always wanted to be an eccentric old lady on the coast.  We let her know that she could stop trying.  She’d made it.

A memorial service will be held on Sunday, March 12, 2006, at 11:00 a.m., at Enso Studio and Meeting Center, 131 Kelly Avenue, Half Moon Bay, CA.  In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the Half Moon Bay Open Space Trust (HOST), on the web at .

Chris Brey