Shirley J. Powless passed away on Tuesday, December 5, 2023, at the age of 95 years, in Fort Myers, FL. She was with family members and comfortable at the time of her passing. Shirley lived a full and interesting life.
Shirley was born on October 14, 1928, in Milwaukee, WI, the daughter of Emil and Mabel (Boening) Jodar. She grew up in Chilton, WI, graduating from Chilton High School in 1946. She attended Layton School of Art in Milwaukee, WI where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. The art school, established by two women in 1920, was regarded as one of the top five art schools in the country and enjoyed a historical reputation for innovative methods in art education.
Upon graduation, Shirley worked as an interior decorator in the Interior Design Department at Gimbels Department Store in Milwaukee. Shirley had a lifelong love for music and art, which was evident to her family. Shirley played her father’s tenor saxophone, which he played in the U.S. Navy Band during WWI. Shirley was a gifted vocalist. During her senior year of high school, she was selected to appear on the “Starring Young Wisconsin Artists” program on WTMJ radio, which featured two artists per week. Not only did Shirley appreciate art, but she used her illustration skills from art school for many ventures in her life.
Shirley married Ronald Powless on August 1, 1956 in Washington, DC. Shirley and Ron worked at the Milwaukee Sentinel newspaper and when Ron first laid eyes on Shirley he indicated to a co-worker, “that is the woman I am going to marry”. Three months later they eloped to Washington, DC where Ron planned to finish his college degree. Subsequently, they moved to the Indiana University campus where Shirley endured married student housing in a little trailer with no running water. After Ron received his degree, their son was born and together they established their home in Milwaukee.
While jobs and promotions had the family moving around the Midwest, Shirley and Ron purchased a lake home on Big Green Lake (WI) in 1964, which they made their residence in 1977 until moving to Fort Myers, FL in 1999. They enjoyed both homes as “snowbirds” and the lifelong friendships they made. Green Lake was special to Shirley. Her mother was born in 1895 on the family farm located on land, which is now occupied by Lawsonia Golf Course on the North Shores of Green Lake.
Growing up during the Great Depression and World War II made a huge impression on Shirley. Her parents owned and operated Jodar Hardware Store in Chilton, WI where Shirley and her brothers were expected to work. She learned at an early age the importance of strong work ethic, determination, the value of a frugal lifestyle and the need to make family sacrifices to succeed in life. This discipline was evident in the success of business ventures Ron and Shirley had that included, a printing business and later a corporation, International Data Systems, which supported Indian gaming.
Shirley is survived by her son, John Powless and wife Barbara of Madison, WI; her daughter, Jane Wagner and husband Alan of Rockford, IL; her grandchildren Deandra Bieneman (Peter Hanna), Trevor Powless, and Jarod (Michelle) Powless; her great-grandchild Rhys Hanna; her brother, Donald and wife Millie Jodar of Fort Myers, FL; sisters-in-law, Ramona Carlson of Green Bay, WI and Donna Powless Grignon of Keshena WI; brothers-in-law, David Powless of Corrales, NM and Lloyd Powless of DeBary, FL, and nieces, nephews and friends. Shirley is preceded in death by her parents; her beloved husband of 55 years, Ron; her son, Mark; her brother, Warren Jodar and her sisters-in-law, Ginny Jodar and Robin/Shirley Moore.
A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. on Saturday, February 24, 2024 at Saint Michael Lutheran Church, 3595 Broadway, Fort Myers, FL 33901.
Shirley adored all her pets especially her cats Smokey and Max-C who predeceased her. In memory of her passion for animals, memorial contributions may be made in Shirley’s name to the Animal Refuge Center, Inc., 18011 Old Bayshore Road, North Fort Myers, FL 33917. ARC is the largest no-kill shelter/sanctuary for cats and dogs in Florida. In memory of her love for Green Lake, memorial contributions may be made in Shirley’s name to the Green Lake Association (GLA), 492 Hill Street, Suite 205, PO Box 364, Green Lake, WI 54941; greenlakeassociation.org. For more information, contact Executive Director Stephanie Prellwitz of GLA
Baldwin Brothers Funeral & Cremation Society, Fort Myers is entrusted with final care.
3595 Broadway, Fort Myers, FL 33901