Shirley Kay Womack Dies; Longtime Resident was 81

Shirley Kay Primus Womack

Shirley Kay Primus Womack, a longtime Sitka resident, passed away on August 19 in Phoenix, Arizona, at the age of 81.

She was born May 10, 1942 near Ewing, Nebraska, the daughter of Carl August and Mattie Eleanor (Eppenbach) Primus.

She and James “Jimmy” Hampton Womack were married July 20, 1960, in Reno, Nevada, and sealed in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ temple in Phoenix, Arizona, on June 4, 2021.

Shirley and Jimmy, who first moved to Sitka from Oregon in 1964, were among the first members of the church’s Sitka branch. They helped raise money and build the log cabin chapel on Sawmill Creek Road.     

Over the years in Sitka, they provided foster care for many children including newborn babies.

While Jimmy worked for many years for Alaska Pulp Corp., Shirley worked for Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association Inc. (NSRAA), from June 10, 1992, until Dec. 24, 2018; she was called the heart of NSRAA.

On Dec. 24, 2018, Shirley fell down her stairs and was paralyzed, and she and Jimmy moved to Phoenix, Arizona.

Shirley always had a card and gift for birthdays, new babies, graduations and such, and cared about everyone she worked with and knew.  Even after paralyzed she still wanted to focus on others instead of her own troubles.

Shirley will be remembered for her sweet spirit, compassion, generosity, grace, sense of fashion, and her beautiful smile. Shirley always made the best of every situation. Being a quadriplegic, she could move only her head.  She couldn’t scratch an itch, shoo away a bug, or feed herself but she never complained.

Shirley especially loved it when her family would come to her home every night and exercise her and tuck her in for the night. Over the years she had many caregivers who became her close friends.

Shirley’s Jimmy died March 20 in Phoenix at age 83.

She also was preceded in death by her parents, Carl August and Mattie Eleanor Eppenbach Primus; sisters Velva Winter and Edith Primus; and brother Larry Primus and four half-siblings.

Shirley is survived by her four children, Stewart (Rayann) Womack, Todd (Angela) Womack, Shanna Johnston, Chad (Deanna) Womack; 10 grandchildren and one great-grandson.

Also surviving are her brother Richard Primus and sister Carleen (Dave) Schroeder.

Per her wishes, a family celebration of life was held shortly after her passing.

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