Shirley Marie Lachs (Mellow) was born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada on May 31, 1936. She graduated from Marygrove College with a B. A. in 1957 and from the University of Michigan with an M.A. in Classical Studies in 1965. She taught English and Latin in the Detroit Public Schools.
On a trip to Europe in 1966, Shirley met her future husband at a performance of “The Owl and the Pussycat” in the English speaking theater in Vienna, Austria. They began a long-distance courtship which culminated in their wedding in Bruton Parrish Church in Williamsburg, Virginia on June 3, 1967. Over 49 years of very happy marriage, their love for each other never wavered.
In 1967, Shirley and John moved to Nashville to join the Philosophy Department at Vanderbilt University. As vital members of the Vanderbilt community, they raised two children: Sheila Marie (1969) and James Richard (1970). Shirley's time was occupied with travel, supporting her children's schools, needlepointing, and knitting beautiful baby sweaters for her friends' children and grandchildren. She also took a keen interest in education and collaborated with her husband on a number of articles.
Shirley battled non-Hodgkins lymphoma for over 11 years under the caring guidance of Dr. John P. Greer. The last years of her life were particularly rich in love, travel, and time with family. In 2015, Shirley, John and Sheila traveled to Budapest to tour the city where John had lived as a child, and to Berlin for a conference honoring his contributions to philosophy.
Shirley was a thoughtful, caring and generous person, who always thought of others before herself. She was a wonderful friend to many and a devoted partner and mother. An admirably calm person, she had a wonderful laugh and a great sense of humor. She loved her rescued animals, which included many dogs and cats over the years. She had a way of seeing the best in people. The world benefitted from her existence.
There will be a celebration of her life, followed by a reception at Christ Church Cathedral, 9th Avenue and Broadway in Nashville at 2pm on Sunday, October 9. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Vanderbilt Hematology Department or to the animal rescue organization of your choice.
To make a memorial gift, please send a check made payable to Vanderbilt University Medical Center to: Vanderbilt University Medical Center Development
Gift and Donor Services, 2525 West End Avenue, Suite 450, Nashville, TN 37203;
Gifts will support the Hematology Cancer Fund. Please include a note with the check or indicate on the memo line that the gift is made in memory of Mrs. Shirley M. Lachs. Or online at VanderbiltHealth.org/Giving. Please select “Yes” from the dropdown menu under “Gift in someone’s honor or memory.”