Shirley Gummer


Shirley Ann (Brown) Gummer, 87, went to heaven November 23, 2022, surrounded by family.   Funeral services will be held at 11:00am Friday, December 2, 2022, at First Presbyterian Church, Mandan, with a visitation one hour prior to the service. For those unable to attend, the service will be livestreamed on the Bismarck Funeral Home Facebook page.  Burial & celebration of life will be at 1:00pm Saturday, December 3, 2022, Mayville Cemetery, with the celebration of life to follow, from 1:30pm-3:00pm Larson Alumni Center – Mayville State University.

Shirley was born on January 12, 1935, to Aagot (Heramb) and Kenneth Brown in Mayville, ND. She graduated 8th grade from Blanchard no. 1, in 1949, and Mayville high school in 1953. While in high school she participated in band, choir, speech, drama, and the tumbling team. She then attended both North Dakota Agriculture College (NDAC), now North Dakota State University and Mayville State Teachers College, now Mayville State University.

Growing up on a farm near Blanchard, ND, everyone had to work. At seven years old, she was driving mules in the field; at age eight, she learned to drive the neighbor’s truck; age nine she was left at Lake Ashtabula to herd several head of sheep; and at age 10 she had a team of horses in which to rake hay and was hired out by neighbors to hay their fields. At age 10 she was also able to join 4-H and was a high-achieving member for 11 years. Her specialty was showmanship, showing registered purebred Brown Swiss cattle and registered purebred Suffolk sheep (along with other breeds of cattle) at many fairs, winning top awards at both the state and national level. She was also a barrel racer for many years. At age 16, she was crowned North Dakota State Dairy Princess.

Shirley married the love of her life, Gordon Gummer, on September 5, 1954, at Mayville Lutheran Church. This union was not by chance. When Shirley was a little girl, she told her mom that she was going to marry the boy who lived at a farm on the edge of Mayville because he owned a Shetland pony. And she did! They were blessed with two children, Gary and Rae Ann.  Shirley loved farming with Gordon and her family and did so until 1992. She worked in the field, drove truck, and along with the grandmas, cooked up delicious hot meals, served buffet style on the tailgate of the pickup during harvest. After retiring from farming, Gordon and Shirley moved from Mayville to Mandan, ND in August of 1999 to be near their daughter and her family. Shortly after moving to Mandan, in 2001 she was nominated to serve on the North Dakota Milk Marketing Board. She served on the board as president for 16 years.

Shirley loved her community and volunteered, established, fundraised, and led the charge for countless organizations. She was a loyal supporter of Mayville State University (MSU), receiving the Distinguished Service Award in 1999.  She served as President of both the Alumni Board and Foundation board, Vice President and one of the original founders of the MSU diversity organization, one of the founders of both the farmers bowl and M-300 fundraising initiatives, chairman of the MSU Quarterback Club, and hosted college events in their home, as well as hosting many foreign exchange students who came to MSU. She was active at Mayville Lutheran church, educating children, serving on the church council and ladies circle for 45 years, and served 20 years as the wedding coordinator. In Mayville, she served in many high school organizations, Sons of Norway, PEO, Eagles, Republican party, and was the first woman to serve on the Luther Memorial Home Board – and the list keeps going.

Summing up the life of our grandma is not easy to do in a few paragraphs, as she was so much more than what can be put on paper. Anyone that knew her has an abundance of stories to share. She had the most genuine interest in people, making a connection with absolutely anyone she met. And we repeat… anyone she met. She was a spitfire, hard-working, classy, smart, adventurous, fearless, determined, and loving woman with a mischievous sense of humor, and an infectious laugh.  She was fiercely devoted to her family, friends, and community.

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Sad to hear of Shirley’s passing – she was a wonderful gift to the community! But, rejoicing that she is reunited with her family. What a reunion that was, I bet!

Knew her well great person will miss her.

Shirley was a gem and a kind person. Our sympathy to the family. Cherish your memories as they will help you thru this sad time. RIP dear lady.

Although I never had the opportunity to know Shirley, I am sure that she will be sadly missed by all her family. My prayers are with you all. God be with you.
I send my best wishes to all her family from England.

I remember her as a State Dairy Princess and later as an entrepreneur,I think at Kirkwood. She was an upbeat lady and talented. A life well lived.

Our condolences to the Gummer family. Shirley was good person and did much to help the community of Mayville. Personally, I credit her with helping me take the position of Alumni Director at Mayville State College. I shall always be indebted to her for her encouragement and support.

We spent summers in Mayville visiting our grandfather and always enjoyed time at the Brown farm and the Gummer’s house where we played with Gary and Rae Ann. Oh do we have stories! My father and Gordon were the best of friends growing up and kept in touch throughout their lives. Shirley was such a gracious hostess, loving friend, witty, with a personality plus. She will be dearly missed. I am so sorry for your loss. We adored Shirley!

Shirley was one of my mother’s friends from college, Mayville State University, though by the time I even have memories of, she was in Mandan and my Mom and us were in Bismarck. I do remember on occasions my sister & I would be taken to her place and Shirley would take the time to be a friendly and kindly presence to us kids in-between catching up with Mom and indeed, she was an excellent cook! I especially remember her meatballs being incredibly delicious, certainly a big part of looking forward to visiting her place.
She certainly deserves a peaceful rest after such an amazing life, and I’m happy to have known her, even as briefly as I did, and happy to remember her.

Shirley was a kind hearted always smiling classy lady.

Shirley (Brown) Gummer was our Blanchard Farm Neighbor, she was OUTSTANDING in everything she accomplished in her life!! She had the most WARMING personality! She was so kind and helpful to Goodman and Dela. My memory was back in the early ’50’s.. we carried water from the Gummer farm to the Blanchard # 4 rural, one room schoolhouse, as we had no running water @ school! Shirley many times would stay with her in-laws along with the two children when Gordon was busy, when she was there on the Gummer farm, she’d give us a treat when we’d come for water, then gave us a ride with the pail of water from the well. In later years, my wife and I bought out fine China at Haugen Jewlery….where Shirley worked for years. She helped us pick out “JUST EXACTLY WHAT WE WANTED ‘ My wife loved her helpfulness in assisting us! Over the years Shirley lost Gordon, along with the tragic loss of both children! This was EXTRMELY HEARTBREAKING for her…. but she was a STRONG LADY! I will NEVER forget Shirley, who was so SPECIAL to EVERYONE! RIP SHIRLEY(BROWN) GUMMER!

We are sorry to learn of Shirley’s passing. She was very kind to us when we visited the US. To this day, we remember her heartwarming hospitality. May she rest in peace.

I have been inspired by Shirley many times while serving on the Milk Marketing Board. Her feistiness, her friendly but stern control of meetings, and always beginning with a ‘funny’ are things I admired. *Good thing she was crowned Dairy Princess because that was a topic of conversation many times! The importance of family was obvious, and it wasn’t just her family as she cared and always asked about ‘your’ family too. My condolences to your family, may her loving spirit live on through you all!

I feel so very fortunate to have known Shirley and been able to spend time with her and Gordy, her obituary says it all- she was beyond special in so many ways. You are all in my thoughts and were very blessed to have had in your lives for so long. Cherish the many many memories and it makes me smile thinking about her reunion in heaven. RIP beautiful Shirley🙏❤️

Shirley offered so much to whatever she was involved with. Her dedication was a lesson for all to learn.