Shirley Beckwith Willcox

Shirley Beckwith Willcox departed this life on August 4, 2017 at the Masonic Healthcare Center in Wallingford. She was the beloved wife of the late Alfred Burton Willcox.


She was born April 16, 1925 in New Haven CT, daughter of the late Orville Shephard Beckwith and Mildred Bissell Beckwith.


She earned a BS in Education, specializing in Teaching of Individuals in Elementary Special Education, from New Haven State Teachers College (now Southern Connecticut University) in 1948, and later a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education from George Washington University in DC. She taught Special Education in the New Haven schools from 1948 to 1953, then 20 years in Bethesda, MD before retiring in 1990. She was an active member of First Congregational Church in Amherst MA, Bethesda United Church of Christ in Bethesda MD, and the First Congregational Church of Wallingford.


After growing up in New Haven and West Haven, she lived in Amherst MA, Chicago IL, Berkeley CA, Uppsala Sweden, Bethesda MD, and Annapolis MD. After retirement, she and Alfred journeyed by sail in their sailboat Duet to Hope Town in the Bahamas eight times before moving to Wallingford.


Alfred and Shirley met in the Center Church Choir in New Haven in December 1945, and they continued to sing in choirs and choral groups wherever they lived, including church choirs in Amherst and Bethesda, opera and special choral groups in Amherst, the Paul Hill Chorale in DC, and the Cathedral Choir in Uppsala, Sweden. Singing was ingrained in her family; dinner typically started with singing grace in 4-part harmony.


She is survived by five sons: David and wife Ellen of Urbana, IL, Mark of Minnetonka, MN, Peter and wife Kay of Upper Montclair, NJ, Daniel and fiancée Kim Smith of Atlanta, GA, and John and s/o Amanda Randolph of Leavenworth, KS; brother-in-law Francis Schott of Ridgewood, NJ; brother-in-law Brewster Willcox and his wife Mary Ellen of Muskegon, MN; sister-in-law Gertrude Beckwith of New Haven; seven grandchildren: Michael and wife Angela, Scott and wife Lisa, Laura and husband Don, Stanton, Joshua, Katherine, Emma; and many other family members and friends. She was preceded in death by her three brothers Gordon, Donald, and Neil, and by her son Mark’s wife Karen Lantto Willcox.


Family and friends are invited to attend a memorial service on Friday, September 8 at 11:00 AM at the Ashlar Village Auditorium located in the Hartog Activity Center, 74 Cheshire, Rd., Wallingford. There are no calling hours. Burial at Beaverdale Cemetery in Hamden will be private. If friends so desire, gifts in her memory may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, Connecticut Chapter, 279 New Britain Road, Suite 5, Kensington, CT 06037 or online at The B.C. Bailey Funeral Home of Wallingford has been entrusted with the arrangements. For directions or online condolences, please visit