Shirley Zupan

Thursday, September 13, 2018
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 Shirley Zupan, 93, formerly of Red Lodge, died on August 10, 2018 in Bozeman.

Born the third of four daughters, Shirley was raised in a merchant family in northwestern Minnesota. Leaving childhood with mixed memories of happy times spent at a lake cottage and at home in their small town, images of the depression, childhood diseases of the time disrupting family life, an ailing father due to WW1 injuries and a working mother, she graduated high school and enrolled at Lindenwood Women’s College in MO. Ultimately, she finished getting her teaching degree at the University of MN as the WW2 was in full force, then taught for 2 years at the University of MN at Morris. 

At war’s end, on a whim, she joined a friend headed from MN to work for the summer at Yellowstone Park. There she met a hansom veteran, Tony Zupan, working at the same hotel. A two season “summer” romance became a long courtship that turned into a 58 year marriage. 

Five children, 1 girl and 4 boys, were the couple’s greatest blessing. Shirley gallantly made the transition from growing up in a quiet, Midwestern family of girls to being the mother to rough and tumble children bent on being ski bum/cowboys. Throughout her mostly failed attempts at civilizing her brood, she usually maintained a sense of humor and attempted to join in the fun, always supporting ambitions that left her mystified.

Her civic and career activities were varied. Shirley was involved with many community organizations and happenings. Teaching at RLHS for 14 years while simultaniously co-owning/operating the Sitzmark, an aprez ski boutique in Red Lodge kept her busy enough. Then her passion for history and preservation, spurred her in a new direction toward helping to create the Carbon County Historical Society and Museum, serving as president on and off for 30 years and receiving many awards for her work. She co-authored with her friend, Harry Owen, the book “RED LODGE, Saga of a Western Area”, and worked tirelessly toward developing awareness of the rich architectural heritage in Red Lodge and encouraging the preservation of it in an authentic way as a means to developing a healthy business climate and pleasant place to reside. Her legacy lives on.

Upon retirement, Shirley and Tony became snow birds to spend time with family in AZ. Shirley enjoyed nature, golf, her expanding family, and all sorts of creative pursuit. Her focus in preserving history turned towards family geneology both on her’s and on Tony’s side. She left much written evidence of her research for both families to cherish.

Shirley will be remembered as Tony’s true love, her children’s strong and loving mother, a friend to many, a blessing to her family and community, a woman who knew her own mind and seemed to enjoy “getting up” for defending a good cause, all the while conducting herself with utmost class. She will also be remembered for her sense of fun, her bright and creative mind and as an inspiration until the end. 

Shirley is survived by her five children, Cindy (Larry), Paul, Tim (Cindy), Nick (Katrina), and Dewey (Linda), nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. 

Services are being held on Saturday, September 15th at 11:00 am at the Calvary Episcopal Church in Red Lodge. Following will be a short service at the cemetery and a reception at the Carbon County Historical Society and Museum.

Please send any memorial contributions to the Carbon County Historical Society and Museum.


The Carbon County News

Street Address:

11 N. Broadway, Red Lodge, MT 59068

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 970, Red Lodge, MT 59068

Phone: 406-446-2222

Fax: 406-446-2225

Toll-Free: 800-735-8843

Open: Monday-Friday, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.