Carol Reed Shircliff peacefully departed this life for the arms of her Savior on June 8, 2021, at home. A beautiful soul, a true lady, and a light to all who met her, Carol was born in Bloomington, Indiana on January 25, 1931, the youngest daughter of William Cyrus Reed, M.D. and Lucille Wakeland Reed.
Growing up predominantly in Bloomington, with a stint in Hattiesburg, Mississippi during her father’s wartime Army service there, Carol was a 1952 honors graduate of Indiana University. There, she earned a degree in English and was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma and Psi Iota Xi. A highlight of her college years was being elected Homecoming Queen in 1951 and crowned at halftime, with the governor of Indiana as her escort.
Much more important to Carol, however, was the considerably less glamorous day in 1950 when she went on a blind date with an upperclassman named Robert T. Shircliff. The persistent Mr. Shircliff – “Bob” to his friends – had been trying to meet her for nearly seven months, after being captivated by the sight of her sitting behind the wheel of a convertible.
It wasn’t long until Carol and Bob were a couple. They dated throughout her junior and senior years, as well as her year of retail work at L.S. Ayres Department Store in Indianapolis, and married at the Little Chapel of St. Agnes in Brown County, Indiana on May 9, 1953. True Hoosiers, they viewed IU’s victory in the NCAA Basketball Tournament earlier that spring with nearly as much joy as their impending nuptials!
Carol and Bob’s 67-year marriage was a love story that inspired everyone around them. They were devoted partners in an adventure that created a beautiful family, built a thriving business, and took them from Indiana to Charleston, West Virginia, and, eventually, to their permanent home in Jacksonville, Florida. With Bob constantly on the road traveling for business reasons, Carol turned her intellect and organizational skills to running the household, raising their two daughters, Elizabeth (Betsy) and Laura, and planning and hosting dinners and parties for the couple’s large circle of friends, family, and business acquaintances.
Community-minded and sociable, Carol also put her talents to work for a long list of charitable and civic organizations. She was a tireless advocate and event planner who served on the board of the Junior League, chaired the first-ever – and hugely successful – Jacksonville Symphony Decorator Show House in 1972, and was involved for many years with the Symphony Guild, of which she was president. She was also involved with the Speech & Hearing Center, the Clover Garden Circle — of which she was a member for more than 40 years — and her travel club.
Travel was one of the Shircliff family’s greatest joys, and one of Carol’s favorite activities was planning every detail of the trips that eventually took them to all 50 states and more than 60 foreign countries. Whether roaming the savannah with friends on an African safari, attending a private Mass in the Vatican with Saint Pope John Paul II, or sightseeing in Washington, D.C. with her grandchildren, she reveled in the success of her arrangements and the enjoyment of creating treasured memories with those she loved.
A member of St. Matthew’s Catholic parish since 1967, Carol became a truly integral part of the congregation once both of her girls were in school. She served on the altar guild and as a lay reader, became a Eucharistic minister, and helped to plan and execute countless retreats and events. She was also a dedicated and energetic supporter of St. Vincent’s Healthcare, now known as Ascension St. Vincent’s, and gave tirelessly of her time, talent and treasure to provide compassionate medical care for the people of Northeast Florida, regardless of their ability to pay.
Although her husband received many public accolades for service to the Catholic Church and St. Vincent’s, Carol’s work behind the scenes was equally vital. She chaired St. Vincent’s Red Rose Ball twice, raising significant funds for the organization, and was an active member of the Council of Catholic Women and a board member of the Catholic Foundation.
Carol was an ardent supporter of the Daughters of Charity, not only working on their behalf, but also ensuring that Bob kept his focus on St. Vincent’s. He loved to tell the story of Carol’s response to his early 1970s decision to scale back – maybe even eliminate – his volunteer commitments. Carol slept on the news with little comment, he would recall, but the next morning, she informed him in no uncertain terms that he would not be resigning from St. Vincent’s if she had anything to say about it. Bob took her at her word, and their work together on behalf of the St. Vincent’s Foundation was an enormous source of joy and satisfaction for them both.
Realizing that the Daughters of Charity’s role at St. Vincent’s would change over time, and desirous of commemorating their tremendous contributions to the Jacksonville community, Carol also funded and oversaw the creation of Daughters of Charity Park at the hospital’s entrance. Her contribution included the beautiful statue of four sisters by Captain Robert Rasmussen, which replicates a statue in St. Vincent’s Hospital in Indianapolis.
Carol’s greatest delight and most cherished legacy, however, was her family. A loving and devoted wife and mother, she particularly treasured her role as a grandmother, great-grandmother and aunt. She attended innumerable plays, dance recitals, ball games and graduations. She loved to babysit — always at her house — and her bevy of grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews adored her.
Carol was preceded in death by her beloved husband of 67 years, Robert (Bob) T. Shircliff; her daughter, Elizabeth (Betsy) Shircliff; her parents; sister Joanne Reed Darby, brother William Cyrus Reed Jr., and nephew, William Cyrus Reed III. She is survived by her loving daughter Laura Shircliff Howell (Billy), and grandchildren Reed Roberts (Brad), Tricia Collie (David), Alden Howell and Caroline Pope (Luke); great-grandchildren Graham Roberts, Caroline Roberts, Judson Collie, Max Collie, Patrick Collie, Billy Pope and George Pope, and numerous nieces and nephews.
The family is thankful for the skilled and compassionate care provided by José Garmandia, M.D., and for the loving kindness of caregivers Carol Powers, Cristy Powers, Lucie Proyer and Mary Ann Beatty.
Visitation and vigil will be held Wednesday, June 23 at 7 p.m. at St. Matthew’s Catholic Church, 1773 Blanding Blvd., Jacksonville, FL, 32210. A memorial Mass will be held at St. Matthew’s on Thursday, June 24 at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials to the Jacksonville Symphony Association, St. Vincent’s Foundation or St. Matthew’s Catholic Church.