The Life of a most Gracious Lady
Shirley May Burton was born at home on May 19th, 1934 in the small, Montana town of Musselshell. Due to an unfortunate bout of scarletina, Lorene Burton was asked not to come to the hospital in Roundup and was, instead, met at home by the local doctor for Shirley’s delivery. Maybe that wasn’t an optimal situation, but hard times called for strong people and the Burton women were and are very strong.
The small community in which she was born and raised was extremely important to her. She brought this deep love of small town life with her to Worden, where she and Kenny raised their family. She remained involved in Musselshell’s community and relished in the opportunities to bring her children and grandchildren to social events at the local Musselshell school. Here she could reminisce about her many happy childhood memories with close friends and family. The Burton sisters – known to all as just “The Sisters” – were always present at the memorial BBQs; everyone loved to hear their lively stories. They were close, and closer still as time passed by. The Sisters shared wonderful memories of their trips around the country as well as many local lunch and movie dates.
Shirley was amazed at herself, as she told the story about running away from her mother when it was time to go to the dentist. Gramma B just waited her out, as a couple of Roundup kids chased her around, then she got tired, came back, and into the dentist she went. A while later, she recalled going to the doctor and “Momma said: ‘She didn’t even run this time'” I guess Gramma B was ready for it.
She was fond of recalling her school days and the fun she had with classmates at the local dances. She and her sister Ruth played in a local band in their early teenage years: Shirley played the piano, Ruth played the drums, and Pauline played the boys, according to their Uncle Owen. He was the guitar player and the driver/chaperone. This made life much easier for Gramma B. : )
Her smile would light up the room as she talked about her courtship and whirlwind wedding to Kenny. In a letter to one of her granddaughters, Shirley recalled that at 18 years old, all she could think about was marrying Kenny. When recently asked how they met, she nonchalantly replied “He moved to Montana and he fell in love with me.” In record breaking time, their July wedding was planned and completed in seven days. Shirley and Kenny were sure he was going into the service, so they didn’t want a minute wasted. Always money conscience and on a tight schedule, she thought she would just wear Ruth’s wedding dress for her big day. However, she said “Daddy told me no, you need your own dress and gave me $50.”
Shortly after their wedding, Kenny brought her to his home in California where Shirley soon learned that she belonged back in Montana in the small communities she loved so dearly. Luckily, Kenny took the advice offered by his father and brought her home where all five of their children were born.
When Shirley was 22, she and Kenny moved their little family to Worden where they lived happily throughout their days. Their home was also the focal point of the larger family – including her 9 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren, not to mention the many extended grandchildren she lovingly cared for throughout her life.
Her devotion to those she loved is evident in the little snippets she kept. They are reminders of the enjoyment she got from her time with her friends and family. Whenever something funny was said or done, she raced to the kitchen to jot it down on a note, this would then be shared continually at sports games or family gatherings for everyone to enjoy. We’ve saved these memories, just as she did, and we all laugh each time they are read.
Speaking of sports games and gatherings, Shirley became a local fixture at most basketball games, football games, and track meets – not just in Worden but all over the state. The term “Kuykendall Cartel” was used on more than one occasion when we’d show up enmasse for a game or meet – and as her family grew, so too did her devotion. She cherished any event a child or grandchild had, and always offered her love and encouragement.
Even if travel across the country was involved, she was there. Shirley and her daughters traveled to Maine to be with Gary and his family to celebrate his graduation from PT school. That’s dedication.
At one-point Randy was working in WY, and she called him to make sure he was ok, his response was “Don’t worry mom, I’m eating at Arby’s”. She thought that was so funny! This love and dedication wasn’t limited to her family alone; she had an extended family that included the children she babysat, the friends of her children and their children, as well as the friends of her grandchildren. All were happily and lovingly taken into her heart and her home.
Shirley was known far and wide for her beautiful sewing. She made the cheerleading uniforms for Janet and her classmates, maternity clothes for herself and friends, and baby clothes and blankets for nearly every baby she knew. Her talents were especially showcased when she and Eva outfitted the entire bridal party for Paula’s wedding – including the wedding dress, bridesmaids dresses, and flower girl dresses. The best part was, that she found a group of like-minded women, and they formed the Worden Women’s sewing club – going 60 years strong now! These women turned into Shirley’s lifelong friends, so thank you to Barbara Banderob, Joan George, Dot Hansen, Betty Ann Olson, Lila Fadrhonc, Wilma McElvain, Vicki Mcilvain, and Dorleen Bolton. We have it on great authority that sewing did take place at these meetings…at least for the first 3 decades.
When visiting Shirley, people were usually met with a smile and a freshly baked cookie. If you were really lucky, you could hit her on a day when she had made her famous, and might we add delicious, cinnamon rolls. Her home was always welcoming, it was where she was most happy and where she unselfishly spread her love and kindness. There were many wonderful Thanksgiving dinners at her table with food too tasty to wait for. Ronnie had supernatural timing when it came to family meals and could walk through the door the moment the food was ready.
Shirley was a woman of great class, a full heart, and a fine hostess. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that she has touched so many hearts and been the reason for so many smiles.
Please join us in our fond remembrances and reluctant good byes of the most gracious lady in our lives. We love her so much, and will think of her always. It is our utmost wish that all who knew and loved her will carry her good nature and kindness with them and give it to those we meet along the way. It brings us such comfort to know she was not alone at her passing.
Shirley was preceded in death by her parents, Clyde and Lorene Burton, her husband Kenny Kuykendall, her grandson Tyler Kuykendall, her niece Debbie Amdor, sisters-in-law Lida Giacomini and June Hannum, brothers-in-law Wendy Powers, Ray Kuykendall, and Bob Giacomini and many aunts, uncles, and cousins.
She is survived by her children, Gary Kuykendall and his family, Janet Kuykendall, Randy Kuykendall and his family, Ronnie Kuykendall and his family, and Paula Borer and her family, and her sisters Ruth Amdor and Pauline Powers.
Funeral services will be 10:30am Saturday, September 16, 2017 at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary. Graveside services will be in the Musselshell Cemetery with a reception to follow at the Musselshell School.
Memorials may be made to the Riverstone Hospice House or Friends of Musselshell School.