Shirley Ann Shewmake Manning was born on Monday, October 23, 1944, in Mena, Polk County, Arkansas, to Marvin & Dora Shewmake. She was the third child of this union and the only girl of the couple’s five children. Shirley lived in Mena for the first ten years of her life but after her mother divorced and remarried, Shirley and two of her brothers were enrolled in Caddo Valley Academy (CVA) in Norman, Montgomery County, Arkansas. CVA was a home for children operated by the Presbyterian Synod of Arkansas. Shirley was a resident of CVA during much of her formative years and attended the Norman Schools from 1954 to 1961. Later in life Shirley would become instrumental in rescuing the abandoned Norman High School and organizing the Norman High School Preservation Program, Inc. (NHPP). She spent twelve years as the force behind raising funds to restore the building and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 16, 2002. The old school and its campus continue to be a center piece in the town of Norman.
Shirley was a prolific writer and a dedicated genealogist composing more than 20 books. She loved to visit with residents of Polk and Montgomery Counties to get their stories and she relayed many of these stories in a magazine she published for several years called the Mountain Signal. Some of her published works include “Caddo Valley Academy 1921-1930,” “Snapshots,” “Montgomery County Newspaper Abstracts,” “Family Scrapbook of Montgomery County, Arkansas,” “Pike County: A Glimpse at the Past,” “Mena, Arkansas: A Diamond in the Rough.” Her latest book was titled “Mountain Folks” that gave the family stories of many early Polk County residents.
Shirley is survived by her son, Arvis (Trey) Cannon III, and wife Gayle of Indiana and daughter, Angela Smith and husband Steven of Arkansas; grandsons, Andrew Long and wife Casey, Arvis Cannon IV, Sage Cannon, Danny Smith; granddaughters, Michele (Long) Perkins and husband Kenny, Lauren Cannon, Allison (Smith) Peoples and husband Jason, and Amanda (Cannon) Neal and husband Michael; great-grandchildren, Cayden Perkins, AvaGrace Long, Eros Cannon, AnaBelle Long, Ava Peoples, Rylee Luna and Claudia Neal; brothers, Bob Shewmake, Wayne Shewmake; half-siblings, Clarine Wilson Smith, Charles McLemore and Elaine McLemore and many nieces and nephews.
Shirley is preceded in death by her husband, Joe Manning, parents and brothers Eugene Shewmake and Arthur Lee Shewmake and many half- and stepsiblings.
A memorial service will be held at a later date. Cremation arrangements are entrusted to Bowser Family Funeral Home in Mena, Arkansas.