Cover photo for Shirley Mae Levine's Obituary
1926 Shirley 2024

Shirley Mae Levine

April 5, 1926 — June 12, 2024

Shirley Mae Levine née Stapleton born April 5, 1926, in Buffalo, NY, notably a descendent of ancestors of the Mayflower and President Grover Cleveland, moved to Fair Lawn New Jersey at a young age. She held fond memories of rural farm life when as a young New Jersey teen she was sent to spend summers on her grandparents’ farm in upstate New York.

A 1943 graduate of Hawthorne high school, Hawthorne, New Jersey, she was a woman ahead of her time. Shirley took advantage of a WWII education program for women and after high school graduation entered Fairleigh Dickinson Junior College, Rutherford, NJ, on a two-year $100 scholarship to study journalism. In 1945 she graduated second in her class earning a 2-year associate’s degree in Journalism.

In high school she was on the staff of the “Clarion” school paper, a member of the school senior class executive committee, and a member of the archery club - exemplifying the diversity of her lifelong interests. Beginning in College, her initial employment was as a part-time reporter on the editorial staff of the Paterson Evening News. There she met Robert H Levine, one of the editors. In 1946, after he returned from military service in the Army Counterintelligence Corps, they married and had five children. Daughters: Margery of Haledon, NJ, Elizabeth Schmitz of Pacific Grove, CA, and Marianne Levine of Aptos, CA; Sons: Robert (wife Claire) of Wayne, NJ and son John Levine (Deceased), wife Jacqueline Levine of North Haledon, NJ. In her 98 years Shirley became a mother of 5 children, 8 grandchildren, and 3 great grandchildren.

Shirley’s husband Robert passed away in 1969. She worked as a research associate at the Paterson, NJ, field office of the Environmental Sciences Laboratory, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, NY. She was on the research team responsible for locating former asbestos factory UNARCO workers employed 1944-1954; scheduling exams for the living and locating cause of death for the deceased. These were groundbreaking epidemiologic studies which confirmed that asbestos was cancerous and hazardous for factory and construction workers. In 1973 she met Andy (Dr. Henry A. Anderson III MD) while assisting him on a research study of the children and family members of the asbestos factory workforce (household asbestos exposure). Their partnership became personal as well as professional and they have been together for more than 50 years.

Both loved to travel and while at Mt. Sinai research took them to asbestos mines in Newfoundland, CN, Quebec, CN, naval shipyards in CT and Calif., and more than 25 studies of worker and community exposures to chemicals. In 1980 Andy accepted appointment as Wisconsin’s Chief Medical Officer for occupational and Environmental Medicine and State Epidemiologist in Madison, WI. Shirley joined him in Madison.

In Madison, Shirley turned her focus on volunteer activities with NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill), the Wisconsin Historical Society, the Wisconsin State Genealogical Society (WSGS), and the Welsh Gymanfa Ganu Association of Wisconsin (WGGAW). She became a genealogy expert helping others while tracing her own ancestry back to the 1600’s with several trips to England and Wales.

She was a voracious reader, and an early adopter of the Kindle. She annually enjoyed ordinary local and exotic world travel with Andy- from New Year 2000 at the Taj Mahal to fishing the barrier reef islands in Belize, diving on the Australian Barrier Reef, and 30 annual October visits to Carpi Italy with Andy to vacation and attend the Collegium Ramazzini annual conference. As an avid cross-country skier, winter was a special time. Shirley cherished friendships and maintained contacts with distant friends.

Most of all Shirley was Mom to her loving children, splitting Holidays between the West and East coast families; Grandma to grandchildren: Lauren and Allison Schmitz, Jessica Levine Ogden and David Ogden, Samantha, Robert, and Michael Levine, Jesse Levine, Jennifer and Eric Gormeley; and her Great Grandchildren: Anneliese, Aurora, and Dominic. Memories of time with her will never fade.

The family will hold a Celebration of Life in Shirley’s honor at a later date. In remembrance of, and to honor Shirley, donations to the American Parkinson Disease Association, Agrace Hospice, or your favorite local service charity would be appreciated.

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