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Shirley J. (Alley) Henschen

Shirley J. (Alley) Henschen

Shirley J. Henschen, 83, of Chandler, Arizona, passed away on December 7, 2019. She died peacefully at home on her birthday after fighting a two-year battle with cancer. She was born on December 7, 1936 in Peppertown, IN, to William D. & Beatrice (Green) Alley. Shirley graduated from Purdue University in 1958 with a B.A. in English. On June 29, 1958, she married fellow alumnus Larry G. Henschen, originally of Indianapolis, IN. They were married for 49 years until Larry’s death in 2007.

A lifelong learner, Shirley relished her role as a public school teacher early in her career. She became a teacher of another kind when she and Larry had their two children, Carla and Patricia, in the early 1960s. A deeply caring person, Shirley turned her attention to service when, in 1968, she and Larry joined a non-profit organization devoted to grassroots development across the globe. Never content to do just one thing, she entered the banking field in the late 1970s, eventually earning a master’s degree in Finance from the University of Houston – Clear Lake in her early 50s. Her new qualifications led Shirley to supervise the credit department at Bank One in Houston, where she became a mentor to the younger employees.

In 1995, Shirley and Larry moved to the Phoenix area for Larry’s job. Shirley honed her skills in H.R. and bookkeeping at ColorMark, a photo-processing lab. In the late 1990s, she co-founded the Women’s Spirit Retreat group, which has held uplifting semi-annual retreats for women ever since. Shirley also uplifted children through her support of education by reading stories to children, especially her granddaughters, and by speaking to Carla’s Deaf Ed students about Indian heritage and to Patricia’s college students about finance.

The Henschens caught the adventure bug when they bought property in Mexico and designed and built an off-the-grid demonstration home near Puerto Vallarta. They also became avid globetrotters, taking an overseas trip every other year. Retirement further expanded Shirley’s horizons when she became a docent for Pueblo Grande Museum in Phoenix. She loved giving tours of the Native American ruins to schoolchildren and lending her financial expertise to the annual holiday Indian Market. Shirley’s 20-year brick was just laid at PGM.

Shirley is survived by loving daughters Carla J. Carey and Patricia R. Henschen, granddaughters Catherine A. Carey and Emily R. Schultz (Austin), sister Marjorie Frye, her extended family, numerous caring friends, and her sweet cat Midnight. She is predeceased by husband Larry G. Henschen, parents William and Bea, sister Bonnie Maupin, brother Bill Alley, and son-in-law Shawn P. Carey.

A memorial service will be held on Friday, January 10, 2020, at 4:30 p.m. at Pueblo Grande Museum, 4619 E. Washington St., Phoenix, AZ 85034. Because Shirley was known for her kindness and generosity, please make donations in her memory to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, the Arizona Humane Society, or Pueblo Grande Museum. Memories may be shared at From one of Shirley’s favorite poems, “The Summer Day”: “Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?” – Mary Oliver. Shirley will be greatly missed by all who knew her, most especially her family.



  • Victoria Brooks Posted January 6, 2020 12:37 PM

    Aunt Shirley was a kind woman full of grace. She was an amazing conversationalist always willing to discuss difficult topics to which she brought wisdom, knowledge and humor. I will miss her so very much!

  • mary Hamton Posted January 7, 2020 9:39 AM

    She is missed and celebrated!

  • Joyce Posted January 8, 2020 11:52 AM

    Shirley was the one who encouraged me to join Pueblo Grande Museum and become active as a volunteer. She was an inspiration and I will miss her very much.

  • Wanda & George Holcombe Posted January 10, 2020 9:19 AM

    Shirley was one of the most caring persons I have ever known and worked with over the years with EI/ICA or WSR South & North . May the memories of her life sustain both family and friends in years to come so her legacy and compassion continues to live in our hearts and care for the WOrld.

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