Shirley Roberta Limbert (1935-2013)

Shirley Roberta Limbert, November 9, 1935 – June 10, 2013

Shirley Roberta Limbert (née Bull) in her 78th year shuffled off this mortal coil surrounded with love at her home in DeSable on the evening of June 10th, 2013 after a brave battle with cancer. Shirley was a role model of courage, dignity and humour for all who loved and admired her. She leaves to mourn her devoted partner Maisie, with whom she shared 18 years of her life, her sons Paul, Simon and Andrew, all in British Columbia, whom she loved deeply and fiercely, her seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, her brother-in-law, Ashok Kundanani, in England and her daughter-in-law, Jacqui Yuile-Flight in Tenerife, a circle of close women friends and a larger community of friends and fellow lesbian, gay and social change activists, writers, poets and pursuers of a meaningful life. She was predeceased by her parents, James Frederick Bull and Hilda (Billie) Greenaway, her sister Christine and her nephew Dale.

Shirley was born in London, England, and was a survivor of the London blitz. Trained as a dancer, while a teenager she performed throughout England. In 1964 she immigrated to Canada with her young family and raised them in Newmarket, Ontario, on a horse farm. She then settled on PEI in 1983.

Shirley obtained a degree in Social Work at York University and worked for many years in the women’s shelter movement, both at Yellow Brick House near Toronto and Anderson House in Charlottetown. She was a strong believer in equality and worked for decades to improve women’s lives, in the areas of family violence, rape and sexual assault, gay and lesbian rights and women’s rights. Working with other activists, Shirley presented briefs to government on behalf of gays and lesbians, lobbying for changes to the PEI Human Rights Act as well as legislation regarding changes to reproductive rights. She was instrumental in the creation of the first Lesbian phone line on PEI, providing information and support. (This was called the “Women’s phone line” because at the time, the word “lesbian” wasn’t allowed to appear in print.) Shirley was also active in the peace movement, participating in the Island Peace Walk in the 1990’s, and demonstrating in Charlottetown and Debert to raise public awareness. She was a member of the Island Peace Committee, Island Women for Peace, and Voice of Women for Peace.

A lifetime artist, she painted, wrote short stories, novels and poetry, producing a book of poetry, two novels and a collection of poetry on her experience/memories of the London Blitz. She was a published author locally, nationally and internationally in numerous anthologies. She will be sorely missed by her Monday Night Writing Group and her TWiG Collective. Her voice will be missed on CBC’s Island Morning, Main Street and Weekend Morning. Although she hadn’t written to the Guardian newspaper recently, she was a strong presence there over the last 25 years.

A service to honour her memory will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to The Humane Society and/or the Upper Room.