Obituary: Shirley Marie Murphy

September 23, 1929 - November 13, 2020
Posted at 7:54 AM, Dec 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-01 09:55:27-05

Shirley Murphy went to be with her Heavenly Father on November 13, 2020, at the age of 91.

Shirley was born on September 23, 1929, in Great Falls, MT to Hyram Spence and Cora Daniels Spence. Shirley's high school education took place in Belt, graduating in 1949. Two years later in 1950, she married Bob Murphy. Bob joined the Army and was stationed in Olympia, Washington for several years. Upon returning to Belt, Shirley and Bob opened the "Kandy Kitchen" and made their famous candy corn, caramel covered popcorn balls, and other caramel and chocolate treats.

Shirley and Bob divorced in 1963 with three little girls in tow. Shirley continued to live on the farm with the girls and went to work for the Yellow Cab Company; becoming the first woman cab driver in Great Falls. After many years driving cab, she obtained a job at Rec Supply on Malmstrom AFB. She was there for many years then transferred to the commissary; finishing her twenty-five year career there.

During her time as a government employee, Shirley was also the mayor of Belt for fourteen years and was the owner of the Belt Café. The cafe brought her much joy, mostly due to the great "gals" that worked for her, Maida Sorkness, Jo Maberry, Shirley Mam, Terry Burgess, Judy Hurst, Alice O'Connell and others.

During Shirley’s tenure as mayor, a train derailed in 1976. Several people lost their lives in this tragic event, but Belt averted a more devastating disaster by having the flow of burning petroleum diverted into Belt Creek, rather than down main street. Shirley had to work with numerous state and federal agencies for the restoration of the creek and town, and even went to Washington, DC to make a statement before the Transportation Safety Board.

To read the complete obituary and share condolences, visit the Schnider Funeral Home website.