Photography

Shirley Ann (Perrine) Zavage

February 1, 1937 ~ November 11, 2021 (age 84)

Obituary

 

McClellandtown, Pa.

Shirley Ann (Perrine) Zavage

 

Shirley Zavage passed away peacefully, surrounded by loved ones, on Thursday, November 11, at the age of 84.

 

Born on February 1, 1937, to Etta (Pastories) Perrine and Basil Perrine, the Depression shaped Shirley’s early years, and she helped feed her family by quitting school early and working long hours on her feet as a waitress. They were sometimes hungry, but serving food and witnessing camaraderie and a respite from the hard times cemented her resolve to own her own restaurant.

 

As a woman who lived by the expression, “If they’re talking about you, they’re thinking about you,” Shirley took Smithfield by storm on her birthday in 1971 when she fulfilled her dream, opening “Shirley’s Restaurant.” She had a bold, bright sign made for the restaurant because she “always wanted to see her name in lights.” It quickly became a favorite dining spot for local business leaders, politicians, people of colorful notoriety, and occasional celebrities passing through town, who heard it was the best local place to get a meal and who sometimes visited again, not just for the food but for the charismatic owner.

 

Trying to keep a low profile but unavoidably subject to the mayhem, her husband, Pete Zavage, always said he was waiting for her to grow up. He would wait through 54 years of marriage, until his passing in 2011.

 

Shirley sold her restaurant in 1977 to help her mother, Etta, who was the owner and operator of Liberty Hall Personal Care Home in Fairchance, PA, from 1963 through the early 1990s. The two brought comfort to many families by caring for their aging loved ones with dignity, kindness, and more food than a typical 80-year-old could consume.

 

Ever the actress, one of Shirley’s favorite moments was performing on stage as Mrs. Bedwin in Oliver at the State Music Hall. She always entertained her family and the many friends she easily made—also nurses, delivery drivers, people in line at the bank etc.—with her grandiose tales. Among these: She had a near-death experience (“they weren’t ready for her yet”), saw a spaceship take off in a burst of bright light, and believed that Midnight, our family cat of 17 years, was possibly a good friend of hers, reincarnated.

 

In 1963, Shirley won $1,000 at bingo that allowed her and Pete to buy their lifelong house. This happy event convinced her that the “big win” was just around the corner. She regularly held up the line at Sheehan’s store in Smithfield playing a long list of lottery numbers (everybody wanted to know, “What’s the hot number, Shirley?”) and bought way too much stuff from Publisher’s Clearing House because she believed you had to buy to win. Most of all, she enjoyed going to the casino with her cousin Josephine “Sis” Provance, her husband Ray, and a gang of friends. Her most recent casino partner has been her daughter, Susan, who observed that arriving at the casino miraculously eased her mother’s mobility problems.

 

Shirley always said we shouldn’t be sad when she passed, because she got to do everything she wanted in life (except write her memoir). Her proudest accomplishment by far, though, was her family. Surviving are son, Pete, Jr. of McClellandtown and his former wife, Patricia (Fike) of Uniontown, PA; daughter, Deborah Marella and her husband, Richard of Fairchance, PA; daughter, Susan Zavage Grivnow and her husband, Stephen of Pittsburgh, PA; “adopted” daughter Erica Hancheck and her husband, Tom of McClellandtown, PA; grandsons, Zachary Marella and his friend, Lexi Bakos; Peter Zavage III; Nicholas Marella and his partner, Ashley Cottrell; and Christopher Zavage; and great-grandkids, Liam Zavage and Amelia Marella.

 

Shirley is also survived by brother, Basil Perrine and wife, Sharon of Martinsburg, WV; brother, Berle Pastories of Fairchance, PA; and many cousins, nieces, and nephews whom she adored.

 

Our heartfelt thanks to Amedisys nursing care and hospice, especially: Jamie, Katie, Vickie, Rhiannon, Kayla, Stephen, Pastor Dave, Anisa—and Amanda, whose friendship and comfort to Mom these last few months exceeds words.

 

Friends will be received in the DEAN C. WHITMARSH FUNERAL HOME, 134 West Church Street, Fairchance, PA, on Wednesday, November 17, 2021 from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. Visitation will be held again at the funeral home on Thursday, November 18 at 12:00 p.m. followed by the funeral service at 1:00 p.m. with Pastor Dave McElroy officiating.

 

Interment will follow in Mountain View Memorial Park, Hopwood-Fairchance Road, Brownfield, Pa.

 

Memorial contributions may be made to American Diabetes Association, P.O. Box 7023

Merrifield, VA 22116-7023.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Shirley, please visit our floral store.


Services

Visitation
Wednesday
November 17, 2021

2:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Dean C. Whitmarsh Funeral Home
134 West Church Street
Fairchance, PA 15436

Visitation
Wednesday
November 17, 2021

7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Dean C. Whitmarsh Funeral Home
134 West Church Street
Fairchance, PA 15436

Visitation
Thursday
November 18, 2021

12:00 PM to 1:00 PM
Dean C. Whitmarsh Funeral Home
134 West Church Street
Fairchance, PA 15436

Funeral Service
Thursday
November 18, 2021

1:00 PM
Dean C. Whitmarsh Funeral Home
134 West Church Street
Fairchance, PA 15436

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