Shirley Agnes Hollinger Kaercher Wasko began her 102.5-year earthly adventure on July 24, 1920, in Paul, Idaho. She was welcomed by parents Warren Issac Hollinger (1892-1964) and Agnes Neyman Hollinger (1894-1979) and brothers Harvey Carl Hollinger (1913-1993) and Melvin Warren Hollinger (1916-2015). A sister, Lois Muriel Hollinger Metsch, joined the family in 1925.
Shirley grew up and attended school in Rupert, Idaho, graduating from Rupert High School in 1938. Growing up, she helped the family business with custom farming, working the local crops using horses and hay derricks. Her adventurous life then took her to the University of Idaho where she earned a cosmetologist license which was to come in handy in later years, especially with her children. While in college she earned several archery awards.
A new chapter began with Shirley’s marriage to Kenneth Kaercher on August 4, 1940. The couple took up farming south of Buhl on the Kaercher family farm. Six children joined their life adventure: Christine, Terry, Marvin, Diana, Ronald, and Richard. Sadly, Ken passed away on May 19, 1956, leaving Shirley and the kids to continue the journey alone. Undaunted, Shirley continued to run the farm for many years until she reached retirement age. After 65 years, she downsized and moved to Moon Glo retirement village in Buhl.
On June 9, 1962, Shirley’s life took a twist as she married Joseph Leo Wasko, a blacksmith from Buhl. With Joe’s six children, Joseph Leo, Douglas, Michael, Dorothy Marie, Margaret and Florence, Shirley and Joe’s blended family was born. Shirley would enjoy 44 years of adventures with Joe until his death on June 25, 2006.
Shirley was a lifelong member of the Methodist Church in Castleford and Buhl, tithing at both. As a certified lay speaker, she gave sermons in several churches. She was a pianist, sang in the church choir, taught Sunday school, held offices in the Methodist Church women’s groups, and organized the Methodist Church prayer chain and the Care and Visitation committee. At the same time, Shirley fully supported Joe in his Catholic faith. The couple were honored by the Buhl Knights of Columbus as the 1999 Family of the Year, noting that Shirley had attended many Knights of Columbus functions and conventions with Joe, during their years of service.
A great organizer, Shirley excelled at planning, organizing and supervising events including numerous reunions of the Wasko clan (Joe’s family consisted of 18 siblings) with relatives gathering in Buhl from across the country. Most notably from Detroit, Michigan and Georgetown, Illinois.
A consummate craftsperson, mom always had something to share, which she produced, including a one-of-a-kind quilt that she presented to each grandchild upon graduation from High School. As a master gardener and active member of the Garden Club, her yard was filled nearly year-round with flowers and vegetables. Many of her offspring proudly displayed flowers, especially irises, transplanted from “Grandma’s yard.”
A love of the outdoors led Shirley to be a superb fisherman and hunter. She transferred this to her children and grandchildren overseeing many of their first fishing adventures at Deep Creek or Clear Lakes fish hatchery. Her hunting expeditions with Joe were legendary, as she often drew Elk and Moose tags, which were hard to obtain.
A life-long learner, Shirley never allowed a chance to learn a new skill or game pass her by, which in turn, she would then frequently teach to her many kids, grandkids, and great grandkids. Card games, including pinochle, Bridge, and Gin Rummy, were frequent sources of entertainment at the Wasko home.
Shirley and Joe joined the Good Sam Club and traveled with them, organizing a number of Good Sam campouts. A stint selling Shaklee products led to Shirley being awarded several new cars for her selling prowess.
After Joe passed, Shirley’s adventures took her to Bridge Park homes in Seattle, where she continued her lifelong tradition of making new friends (even at the age of 90) by organizing card parties, tea parties, group outings and reaching out to all newcomers. While in Seattle, Shirley became an avid fan of the Seattle Seahawks, becoming an honorary member of the 12th Man Club and attending many home games and mancave parties. As her mobility declined, she moved to an AFL home where she continued her lifelong passions of painting, playing the piano, singing hymns an studying the Bible, always with a great attitude and smiles.
Determined to reach the age of 100, Shirley achieved that and more, always looking forward with great gusto to the birthday parties her family hosted which saw the attendance of an abundance of kids, grandkids, great-grandkids, great-great grandkids, friends, relatives, and the occasional passersby. She dearly loved her fried oysters and shrimp plates which became a staple at the parties.
Shirley was preceded in death by her parents, Warren and Agnes Hollinger; brothers, Harvey and Melvin Hollinger; first husband, Kenneth Kaercher; daughter, Christine Griggs Geyer; son, Terry Kaercher; daughter-in-law, Joan Wasko; granddaughter, Sidra Lord; grandson, Ryan Wiggins; great-grandson, Hunter Monson; and numerous beloved friends, neighbors, and relatives.
She is survived and will be dearly missed by her sister, Lois Metch; children, Marvin Kaercher, Diana Kaercher, Ronald (Paula) Kaercher, Rick (Karen) Kaercher, Leo Wasko, Doug (Sherry) Wasko, Mike (Jeanne) Wasko, Marie (Mike) Heath, Margaret Norris, Florence (John) Ostrander; daughter-in-law, Arlette Kaercher (Ron Wentz); and son-in-law, Karl Geyer. Shirley also leaves numerous grandchildren, great grandchildren, and a few great-great grandchildren, and many, many friends she has accumulated throughout her glorious adventure of life.