Shirley E. Bittner, 81 of Bellefonte, formerly of Howard, passed away on Monday, August 3, 2020 at the Mount Nittany Medical Center. She was born on August 8, 1938 in Lock Haven, the daughter of the late Kenneth T. & Virginia Yearick Confer.
She married Robert Bittner who survives at home.
She graduated from Howard High School class of 56. She was a homemaker and also worked at the Bellefonte Hospital in the x-ray dept. as a secretary. She was a jury commissioner in the 1970's.
Shirley was very involved in her community. She along with her husband ran the "Howard Homestead Bed & Breakfast". She served on the Howard Museum Board.
She is survived by two daughters; Jennifer (Michael) McCartney of Bellefonte and Beth (John) Bryan of Altoona, one sister; Barbara (Tom) Davidson of Bellefonte, one foster son; Russell Hearn of Howard, four grandchildren; Karri Weaver (Ryan) Brown, Clint (Nina) Weaver, Chelsea Weaver (Elam Lapp) and Angelica Bryan and fifteen great-grandchildren She was preceded in death by two brothers; Torry Confer & Rich Swope.
Memorial contributions may be made to Centre Crest Auxillary.
Funeral services will be on Saturday, August 8, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. at the Kader-Neff Funeral Home, 135 Main Street, Howard with the Pastor Craig Rose officiating. Friends and family will be received from noon to 1prior to the service at the funeral home. Burial will be at the families convenience at the Schencks Cemetery in Howard Twp.
Shirley wasn’t the type of person who cared about the color of your skin, the level of education you had, where you lived, or your net worth. She cared about your well-being and how she could help you. She was the type of person who could dial a wrong number and still strike up a conversation. She made countless calls from the kitchen of her home on Mill Street on behalf of people who needed an advocate. She did not hesitate to fight for those in need. This was because she was raised in a family who loved fiercely and unconditionally. Her family home was built in the 1890’s and the first house in Howard to have electricity, and housed many generations of her family. She and Bob opened ‘Howard Homestead Bed and Breakfast’ as a way to utilize the all those many rooms and to provide comfort to weary travelers.
Later, they opened their home to immediate and extended family members who needed a place to relocate and rebuild their foundation. This is an example taught to her by her parents. Ken and Virginia bought ground in Howard; subdivided so other families could plant roots in the wonderful community they loved so much. Ken saw the need for a gathering place for the youth in town to “hang out” and listen to music and hence, the ‘Be-Bop’ ice cream stand was born. Shirley twisted and served many ice cream cones. She felt privileged to be a part of that adventure and spoke about it with such love. She was so proud of the contributions her parents made to their community and she honored them by continuing in her own ways.
Shirley directed many community plays as a way to fundraise for various recipients. She organized ‘cake walks’ to raise funds for those in need. She volunteered at Howard Elementary School, helping many children develop better reading skills. She was instrumental in the creation of the ‘Howard Museum’ as a way to preserve and sustain Howard’s heritage. She loved genealogy and was a wonderful historian both for the Howard community and for her family as well. She was very proud of both. Immeasurable hours were spent in research and organization of her family tree. Pages and pages of the branches were typed and re-typed keeping it as accurate as she could. She has inspired many to become involved and understand the importance of taking pride in “your roots.”
No task was too big or too small for Shirley. Before the era of internet-accessible lyrics, many fun hours were spent transcribing the lyrics to songs from a tape recorder for Kelse Lomison to memorize and sing. An immeasurable amount of envelopes were stuffed and labeled at her kitchen table assisting Jury Commissioner John T. Saylor. Shirley loved numbers and at one point in her life, had memorized license plates and phone numbers for most all Howard residents.
Shirley had many passions. First and foremost was her family. When she could, she made every birthday, holiday, reunion, Grange Fair, and picnic a special event. Shirley went above and beyond. When you walked into her kitchen, you had her full attention and felt at ease immediately. She found a soulmate in Bob who fueled every passion and never missed an opportunity to tell her he loved her; be it verbal or in silent support. She loved her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, parents, siblings, grandparents, in-laws, extended family, nieces, nephews, cousins, care-givers, neighbors,
co-workers, pastors, and friends with a pure and fierce devotion. We are so blessed.
She poured every ounce of love into her home-made apple dumplings, sand tarts, glorified rice, macaroni salad, meatloaf, fried chicken, and pot pie that she served. Shirley loved to play a round of contract rummy and fits of laughter always ensued, even when Bob threw hissy fit and “bought” every available card. Those of you who have played contract rummy with them know what I’m talking about. She knew the value and cherished the time we remained at the “supper” table after the meal was finished just to talk, laugh, and spend time together.
Crocheting was a passion that knew no boundaries. Countless stitches over decades have created hundreds of afghans for lucky recipients. Those blankets were more than just patterned yarn – they were little masterpieces of her love for you. She was compassionate for pets as well as for people. Again, she placed no boundaries. We adopted cats, dogs, a parakeet, rabbits, goats, fish, orphaned baby opossums, mice, turtles, baby chicks and even miniature ponies.
Shirley and Bob were ambassadors for the Salvation Army and delivered many meals. When Children & Youth called on them to foster children, they dropped everything and rose to the occasion. They met many life-long friends after joining the Howard Charter of The Grange. Shirley and Bob enjoyed peddling milk, antiquing, camping, hosting holiday parties, boating, picnicking, family reunions, high school reunions, attending Torry’s college football games, the Farm Show in Harrisburg, Ice Capades, state fairs, the Blue Ridge Quartet, Phase II, The Young and The Restless, and people-watching at Grange Fair.
When Shirley gave, she gave freely. When she loved, she loved unconditionally. When she hurt, she hurt deeply to her core. She gave second chances and the benefit of the doubt. She loved her church and her church family. She was a woman of faith and is certainly in a far, far better place. The world is a better place because of her love and we are better people because she loved us. And even though her loss will be felt by many, we have reason to celebrate her and the legacy she left behind. Next time you see a butterfly, a cardinal, a Confer milk bottle, a gladiola, or something that brings her to your mind, know that she is still embracing you with her love.
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