1936 – 2022
Shirley Alva Kokkonen, wife of Ray Kokkonen of Trout Brook, peacefully passed away at Losier Hall in Miramichi on September 17, 2022 at the age of 85.
Born in Wayerton, New Brunswick, on January 4, 1936, she was the daughter of Vincent and Myrtle McNeill.
Shirley began school in Wayerton in a one-room schoolhouse. After the family moved to Newcastle in 1945, she attended Harkins Elementary School, continued in Harkins High School and completed her education at St. Michael’s Academy in Chatham. As well, Shirley was very involved with the Canadian Girls in Training program through the United Church in Newcastle and was active with the church until leaving Miramichi.
Starting her work career at the Ammunition Depot in Renous, she continued with many and various jobs in places like Germany where she spent six years. Back in Canada, she became the Commanding Officer’s Secretary of the 4th Royal Canadian Horse Artillery in Petawawa, Ontario where she met her future husband Ray in 1967, and the Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories where she held the position of a Technical Secretary. When Ray was posted to National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa in 1979, Shirley became the Executive Secretary of the President of Atomic Energy. When a posting took the family to Calgary in 1981, Shirley worked at the Citizenship Court. A Toronto posting in 1988 saw Shirley as the Office Manager for National Defence Public Affairs. In retirement in 1993, the Kokkonens settled on Shirley’s family homestead in Trout Brook but Shirley continued in a new job at the Services Canada office in Miramichi.
As a significant note, Shirley was presented the Calgary 1988 Olympic Games Canada Celebration 88 Medal by the Government of Canada for “significant enhancement of international relations” for her gracious hosting of many dinners for athletes and officials of diverse national teams, guiding them around Calgary during the Games and assisting them in many other ways.
During and after retirement in 1993, Ray was involved with the International Biathlon Union as an elected functionary, a role which led to many interesting trips for Shirley to foreign countries including among others: Austria (her favourite), Bulgaria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, England, Germany, and the former East Germany at exactly the time when the two halves of Germany reunited in 1990.
After returning to the Miramichi area, Shirley was very involved in fitness, particularly at Curves and also doing various walking and dance routines at home with her cousin Faye Baisley. Faye and Shirley also participated in painting with acrylics and attended classes and very quickly the Kokkonen home filled with paintings on every wall and in all the nooks and crannies. Shirley was always a good knitter and knitted mitts for the kids in Harkins Elementary for several years. She was also excellent at doing macramé. Despite the foregoing, Shirley’s two highest interests were cooking, including hosting, and home decoration. Ray had a plaque made which says: “The best cook in the world, Shirley Kokkonen, lives and cooks here and is very much appreciated by her husband”.
Throughout her life, Shirley was a beautiful person, inside and out. She was liked and loved by almost everyone she met. She was kind, generous and had an infectious sense of humour and a beautiful smile. Even in the end, she was a favourite resident of Losier Hall to the staff and other residents for her kindness and uncomplaining personality.
Shirley is survived by her husband, Ray Kokkonen, brother Ray McNeill (Lois), sons Gary MacDonald of Calgary, Darrin MacDonald (Peggy) of Miramichi and Barty MacDonald. She was predeceased by her son Ricky; parents Vincent and Myrtle McNeill and brother Morrisey McNeill.
At the request of the family, there will be no visitation but please do join them at a Funeral Service to be held at Davidson’s Funeral Home, Miramichi, NB on Thursday, September 29, 2022 at 2 PM and at the Celebration of Life reception at Davidson’s immediately after the service.
The internment of Shirley’s ashes will be attended by the family at a later date.
As an expression of sympathy, donations to the Miramichi SPCA or to a charity of the donor’s choice would be much appreciated by the family.
Messages of condolence may be sent to Davidson’s Funeral Service Ltd.,
593 Old King George Highway, Miramichi (506) 622-7464 or online at www.davidsonsfh.com Your Family Owned - Family Operated Funeral Home