Shirley M. Pyne-Decker


DELHI - Shirley M. Pyne-Decker, age 76, passed away Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, at her home in Delhi, surrounded by family. 

She was born Shirley Marie Pyne Oct. 29, 1945 in Middleton, Nova Scotia, Canada. Shirley was the daughter of Benjamin Howard and Elsie May (Burgoyne) Pyne. Shirley left high school to marry her hometown sweetheart, James Gerald Gaul, on March 24, 1962 at the Baptist Church in Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia. She relocated to her husband’s home in Cold Lake, Alberta, where he was stationed with the Royal Canadian Air Force as a mechanic. Upon completion of service to the Canadian military, the couple moved to Delhi where they ran a dairy farm with Vernon and Fred Durling on Andes Road. 

The couple then expanded their family with two daughters, Patricia Marie and Kimberley Ann. In 1970 the family moved to Mount Pleasant, Texas. During the following two and a half years, Shirley earned her High School Equivalency Certificate and took courses in bookkeeping and typing, putting the building blocks of her continuing education and foundation for future business enterprises in place. 

In Texas, she managed a Phillips 66 Warehouse gas station. The local paper ran a news item and a display ad with a picture of Shirley pumping gas. The caption over the picture read “Women’s Lib Comes To Mt. Pleasant ...” The newspaper article perfectly captured Shirley’s pioneering spirit.

Shirley and her daughters returned to Delhi and for a while she worked mornings at the Buena Vista Motel for Velma Clark, afternoons at Stewart’s Department Store and four nights a week in a local restaurant. Her career directory changed when she was hired by the village of Delhi as deputy village clerk under Lois Gould. 

In 1973 Shirley met and married Rodney Decker and her management and leadership in The County Shopper and Decker Advertising began. Family friend Bill Shank, an attorney and CPA who knew the couple needed help with their business, worked closely with Shirley teaching her to set up accounting procedures, which was the beginning of her professional career. In 1993, Rodney retired and Shirley bought out his interest in the company and ran it until her retirement.  

Always supportive of local events, Shirley has been a friend to Delhi and Delaware County, volunteering her time, energy and business acumen to various agencies and organizations. She served as a director for the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce and United Way of Otsego and Delaware Counties, as a trustee for the village of Delhi and was an active Business and Professional Women member from 1973-1993. She was honored as Delhi Business and Professional Women “Woman of The Year” in 1998. 

On the state and national level, she served for many years on the board of directors and for a time as president of both Free Community Papers of New York and National Association of Advertising Publishers. She was awarded Publisher of The Year by both associations. 

Shirley earned her Certificate of Naturalization, becoming a citizen of the United States on July 14, 1977. She enjoyed bridge, traveling, and shopping for antiques. She loved to go out with friends for weekly dinners and dancing, often with Velma and Burton Clark and Petie and Ed Gile. She loved to throw parties and often hosted Christmas Eve celebrations serving seafood chowder after Burton Clark took the group on horse-drawn hay rides through the village of Delhi. She especially loved visiting family in her home province of Nova Scotia where she let her big brother, Ken, think he could beat her at games of Rummy. 

She was truly a lady with class and style. A great friend, wonderful aunt, mother and grandmother. 

Her oldest daughter, Patricia Marie Roberts, predeceased her on May 6, 2022, losing her life to pancreatic cancer. 

Shirley is survived by her daughter Kimberley A. Shepard and her husband Randy; granddaughters Ashely Gaul (Robert French) and Chandler Mason (Micci); grandsons James Hall (Kristina Wright) and Joshua Shepard (Emily); great-grandson Ayden Rich; great-granddaughters Charlotte French, Avery and Alyssa Mason; brothers Kenneth Pyne (Cathy), Eric Pyne and Kevin Pyne (Judi); nieces Sandra Pyne, Annette Gaul and Donna Garant; nephews Stephen Pyne, Kevin Gaul, Daniel Gaul and James Gaul. 

Shirley is also survived by close friends Jacalyn Clark and Kaye Morrell. 

The family wishes to acknowledge the special care given to Shirley by her granddaughter, Ashley, throughout the six week stay in ICU at Albany Med and personal care given when brought home in her final days. The family also wishes to acknowledge prayers and council given by Wayne Shepard, and prayers from his church family since her illness. 

Family and friends are welcome to attend a graveside service at Woodland Cemetery in Delhi at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, followed by a celebration of Shirley’s life hosted by Kim and Randy Shepard. 

Memorial contributions may be made to Helios Care, 297 River Street Service Road, Suite 1, Oneonta, NY 13820. 

Arrangements are by Kenneth L. Bennett Funeral Home of Franklin.