Shirley Ann Frei

Shirley Ann Frei was born to Leo and Florence Knox on December 25th, 1933, in Marshalltown, Iowa. Her upbringing was filled with the joys of small town life and she learned by example from her extraordinary parents the importance of social justice, kindness and always speaking your truth. She was a big sister to Sharon Williams (Knox) and Linda Knox (d. 1980) and enjoyed the love and affection they brought to her life.

In 1954, Shirley graduated from Cornell College with a degree in English. It is here where she met the love of her life, William Frei. While their first date was unimpressive by her account, it was the beginning of a beautiful 65-year life together. They were a great team, with equal parts bickering, supporting, championing, inspiring and loving each other throughout their days together.

Shirley took great joy in raising her four children. She loved the beauty, complexity and simplicity of small town life in Reinbeck, Iowa. She instilled in her children the love of the arts, literature and the importance of social justice. She talked the talk and walked the walk.

She went on to get a MA in Special Education from the University of Northern Iowa and taught for twenty-five years specializing in students with learning disabilities. Over the years, so many of her former students reached out to her in gratitude for the positive effect she had on their lives.

In their retirement, Shirley and Bill started an entire new chapter of adventures in Pinehurst, NC. They formed a community of close friends there and Shirley volunteered for many organizations that supported the arts and literature. Wherever Shirley was, she maintained deep friendships with people from grade school, high school, college and beyond and always kept her friends close to her heart.

Shirley Frei will forever be celebrated and cherished by her family. We all walk a little truer and with a little more pizazz for having been loved by Shirley Frei. She will be dearly missed.

Shirley was preceded in death by her parents, Leo and Florence Knox and her sister, Linda Knox.

She is survived by her husband, Bill Frei, of Fargo, North Dakota; son Tom (Tracey) Frei, of Fargo, North Dakota, son John Frei, of Washington, D.C., daughter Mary Frei, of Olympia, Washington, daughter Sarah Frei, of Washington, D.C.; granddaughters: Rachel (Joe) Bost, Elizabeth (Ben) Duchek, Madeline (Mike) Rustvang; grandsons: Peter Frei, Henry Pace, Charlie Pace; great-grandchildren: Eveyln, Thomas and Robert Bost; sister Sharon (Kenny) Williams.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, September 24, at 11:00 am at the United Methodist Church in Reinbeck, Iowa. Light refreshments will follow in the Fellowship Hall. A private burial will be held following the reception.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to a local charity of your choice or towards the Reinbeck Aquatic Center’s new bathhouse: Reinbeck City Hall, Attn: Julie Wilkerson 414 Main Street, Reinbeck, Iowa 50669. Please write “bathhouse” on memo line or indicate “bathhouse” in your donation.

Cards may be sent to: Sarah Frei, 4000 Massachusetts Ave. NW #826, Washington, DC 20016.