The Shirley Dickens Memorial Tribute
Webpage of Remembrance
Shirley Dickens Celebration of Life
11am Saturday January 23
The Shirley Dickens Memorial Tribute is awarded posthumously and is designed to honor members of The Anchorage Unitarian Universalist Fellowship who meet one or more Board-approved criteria. Those receiving this honor do so in recognition of either their non-financial, extraordinary, long-term contribution to The Fellowship; an exceptional, end-of-life or single financial contribution to AUUF; or because of significant and distinguished contributions to the broader community.
Shirley Dickens, who passed away in 2020, more than meets these criteria and the Board, on behalf of her beloved AUUF family, is pleased to establish this tribute and to name her as its first recipient.
During her more than 40 years as an active member, Shirley left her imprint on nearly every aspect of our Fellowship. She served as Board president at least twice, as well as on the 2001-2002 Search Committee. She was a worship associate and active lay leader dating back to AUUF’s Log Cabin days and was instrumental in creating numerous special services, including the annual All Souls/Samhain service and International Women’s Day service, and the Sunday evening contemplative Vespers service. Once retired, she delighted in taking a turn at teaching RE for several years, was a Coming of Age mentor and “elder”, and loved serving as a “mystery pal” during annual youth events. She donated thousands of airline miles so young people could attend UU district youth conferences, participated in five UUA General Assemblies, was a regular contributor to broader UU causes, and for many years was the backbone of AUUF’s Alliance and Hungry Book Club, where she made sure newcomers always felt welcome. She was a frequent attendee of Adult RE classes and loved to take part in small-group ministry circles. She wrote articles for The LOG and, for many years, helped prepare its mailing. She made countless pots of delicious homemade soup for Blue Christmas services and RE fundraising Sundays. She always volunteered to host Whalecoast visitors in her home and instituted fellowship-wide Thanksgiving dinners -- cooking many a turkey herself -- so no one would have to be alone that day. And for decades, no rummage or holiday sale was complete without Shirley in the mix, routinely taking her spot at the check-out table. On top of all this, she rarely missed a Sunday morning and was a dedicated attendee of both The Forum and the Worship Service.
And although Shirley’s loving and steadfast influence can be found in every nook and cranny of our AUUF community, it was perhaps her to-the-bone gratitude of all things AUUF and her genuinely welcoming presence that are the most lasting. Shirley never missed a chance to let us all know exactly how important we, as a congregation and as individuals, were to her. We were her people and she was eternally grateful. That gratitude showed itself in countless ways, but perhaps no more clearly than in the way she smiled and greeted an unfamiliar face. Repeatedly, people remember Shirley as quick to introduce herself on their initial visit and equally quick to welcome them when they returned.
“Shirley was the first person I met when I walked into the Fellowship (several) years ago,” remembers one member. “It was by happy accident that I sat down near her. She introduced herself and welcomed me. For several weeks this meant that I had someone who said hello and smiled at me each Sunday.”
Another member had a similar experience. “Shirley is the reason I joined AUUF. She always was kind and willing to talk with me.”
Not only was Shirley extraordinarily generous with her time and talent, she also pledged her financial support and routinely was among our most generous annual donors. A nursing colleague and fellow AUUF member remembers significantly upping her own annual pledge after learning what Shirley gave while earning a similar salary. As always, Shirley led by quiet example and, in her final months, made sure AUUF received a significant financial gift in her will.
AUUF collectively, and each of us individually, is better off because more than 40 years ago Shirley chose us. We are honored, therefore, to establish The Shirley Dickens Memorial Tribute in her honor and to recognize her as its first recipient.