Shirley J. Tuthill

04/23/2013 4:59 PM |

Shirley J. Tuthill, librarian, died peacefully April 20 at her home in Chestertown, Md. She was 81.

Shirley was the daughter of Ralph Wells and Laura (Fanning) Tuthill of Mattituck, N.Y. Raised on the last dairy farm on the North Fork of Long Island, she graduated from Cornell University in 1953 with a B.A. in sociology. Shirley married George Bean in 1954 and eventually settled in Adelphi, Md., where she lived until moving to Chestertown in 2004.

She received her master’s in library science in 1967 from the University of Maryland and worked as a librarian in the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System until retiring in 1992 as director of the Talking Book Center for the visually impaired. Following retirement, she continued working at the USDA National Agricultural Library’s Rural Information Center in Beltsville, Md., and at a start-up Internet search firm called FYI Online in Silver Spring, Md.

A quiet, kind rebel and woman of strong civic conscience, Shirley was a feminist, a civil rights activist, an anti-war demonstrator and a proud liberal throughout her life.

She took great inspiration from strong, capable women like her mother, Laura, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jacqueline Kennedy, Shirley Chisholm and Hillary Clinton, as well as from writers, musicians, conservationists and progressive political figures like Martin Luther King Jr.; John, Robert, and Ted Kennedy; and Barack Obama.

Shirley was an accomplished pianist, participating in a local group called Music Makers that met monthly to sing and play instruments. She loved all kinds of music, from Bach and Beethoven to Brubeck, Coltrane and the Beatles. She loved cats (especially cats!), birds, travel, walking and cross-country skiing. A lifelong reader, Shirley preferred fiction, especially mysteries, but loved the classics as well. Two of her favorites were short stories that she read every winter at holiday time: Leo Tolstoy’s “The Snowstorm” and Truman Capote’s “A Christmas Memory.”

A smart, beautiful, open-minded, cultured, sensitive, shy, capable, modest, independent person, Shirley will be dearly missed by all who were lucky enough to know her.

She is survived by two sons, Casey Bean and his wife, Min Zhu, of North Kensington, Md., and Adam Bean and his wife, Diane Koch, of Pittsburgh; grandchildren Austin Bean, Madeleine Bean, Sophie Bean, Nina Bean, Andy Bean and Camden Bean; sister, Lois Herr, and her husband, Bill Herr, of Carbondale, Ill.; brother, Dean Tuthill of Baltimore; ex-husband, George Bean, and his wife, Barbara, of Annapolis, Md.; former daughter-in-law, Yukari Kunisue of Hilo, Hawaii; and several beloved nieces and nephews.

A service celebrating her life will be held Sunday, May 12, at 11 a.m. at Heron Point of Chestertown, 501 E. Campus Drive, Chestertown, Md. A graveside service will be held Saturday, July 13, 2013, at 11 a.m. at Cutchogue Cemetery in Cutchogue, N.Y.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to The Humane Society of Kent County, P.O. Box 352, Chestertown, MD 21620.

This is a paid notice.