Ms. Shirley Diane Kestner, 72, of Smyrna, Tennessee went on to be with the Lord on Friday, August 25, 2023. She was born to the late Charles and Minnie Alice Daniels in Baxter, Tennessee on Tuesday, October 10, 1950. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her sister, Brenda Gail Robinson; and brother, Charles Eugene Daniels.
She is survived by her son, Matthew Kestner of Smyrna; daughters, Lisa Smith of Smyrna, Sherry Kestner of Smyrna, Patty (Michael) Boyd of Hendersonville, and Angela Little of Smyrna; grandchildren, Jonathan Kestner, Stephanie (Daniel) Cook, Stefan (Maddie) Serrano, Jeremy (Cassie) Hall, Alex (Tori) Hall, Andrew Hall, Ashley (Phillip) Little, Taylor (Mariah) Little, Joshua (Jennica) Little, and Noah Perry; and 17 great grandchildren.
You can't understand anything about Shirley's life if you can't spell love. Her life was filled with opportunities for Long-suffering and Openness that lead to the rewards of a Venerable and Eternal life. At the age of 3, Shirley lost her father. Her mother, Minnie, taught her exactly what hard work and a whole lot of love could accomplish, and it left a lasting impression.
Shirley left school in the 10th grade, getting married at the age of 16. Her first job was working as a cashier at "The Canteen" in the VA Hospital, working there while the children were little. However, having children changed Shirley's focus in life to them, and Shirley was a homemaker through and through.
There wasn't much Shirley couldn't do. She cooked, cleaned, gardened, and made the children's clothes. While working around the house or getting ready for church, she would turn on the records, and on many occasions, The Rambos' melodies drifted through the air. When it came to gardening, Shirley was blessed with a green thumb, and she used it to produce beauty and sustenance for her family with flowers and vegetables.
That may seem like a lot already, but seamstress work was where Shirley really shined. Sherry and Lisa have many memories of wearing handmade matching outfits, and each of her children got a quilt or two. As they grew up, they learned how much she enjoyed avoiding her hands being idle with sewing. One of them would call, and she wouldn't miss a beat with the sewing machine. If you wanted to talk, you'd have to talk over the whirring in the background.
Shirley's talents as a homemaker came from passion cultivated in necessity. A mother of 5 children has to have a knack for thrift, and Shirley had so much of a knack that the necessity produced a new passion. Throughout her life, she enjoyed going to yard sales and thrift stores. In their youth, the children were drug along, but as they became adults, they got the opportunity to be the chauffeurs as Shirley tracked down the best find for the best price.
Her ability to track down a good deal also served to benefit others, and it especially came in handy when she started working with her brother-in-law, Herman, and nephew, Tim, after the children had moved out. She held the title of secretary at Big Tim's Car Lot, but the care and kindness she showed to new buyers and seasoned purchasers went the extra mile in making them comfortable.
Now, the true talent of Shirley was no secret by any means. In fact, it became her profession. She was so gifted at rearing children with just the right amount of tender heartedness and tough love that she invited other children into her home as a babysitter. Over the years, she has touched the lives of countless children as a mother, babysitter, grandmother, and great grandmother.
Her welcoming spirit and Southern hospitality extended to everyone and earned her several "bonus" grandchildren and the affectionate title of "Granny." It didn't matter who you were — Shirley loved everyone equally. She gleefully took on the role of Granny for anyone who would accept her boundless love, and Shirley was no respecter of who or what she loved. Animals also held a special place in her heart, especially her granddogs, Bear, Big Bella, and Little Bella.
And if it wasn't the dogs, it was birds. Shirley sometimes set down the needle to pick up a pencil, and even though she drew a variety of subjects, birds seemed to keep popping up in her collection. Speaking of collections, it wasn't just drawings that Shirley could sign her name too. She also had a series of poems that she wrote to express herself.
Writing her thoughts, painting her emotions, or sewing away her cares were talents that she invested herself into, but just because Shirley's hands didn't stay idle didn't mean that her mouth did. She took joy in making people laugh and could joke with the best of them. It's been said laughter is the best medicine, and it must have been how she managed to have so much patience and forgiveness in her heart.
Though obviously well-rounded in ability and personality, Shirley decided later in life that it wasn't enough, and she studied and went back to earn her GED. It was an example to her children and a proud moment for herself, but even though education mattered to Shirley, she knew what mattered most in life.
Until her last breath, Shirley loved the Lord by faith. She found her final church home at The Pentecostals of Smyrna 20 years ago when they opened the doors. As one of the first people to walk through the doors, she knew almost immediately she had found her church family. Even as her health was failing, she would ask all the time what day it was and if it was time to get ready for church. She longed to be with other Christians to fellowship, worship, and serve the Lord.
Shirley didn't allow those years of long suffering through the trials of this life to harden her heart. Instead, she decided to combat it by doing the opposite and being more open. She opened her heart, her hands, and her home to whomever was in need of love, support, or kindness. Her decision to persevere has brought honor to herself and her family as well as glory to the Lord. Her family takes comfort in knowing Shirley no longer has to love the Lord by faith alone because He is now within her sight.
Visitation will be held at The Pentecostals of Smyrna (1301 Plaza Dr., Smyrna, TN 37167) on Monday, August 28, 2023 from 4-8 pm. Funeral services will be Tuesday, August 29, 2023 at 11 am in The Pentecostals of Smyrna chapel (1301 Plaza Dr., Smyrna, TN 37167). Bro. Carlos Sadler and Pastor Kevin Allen will officiate. Interment will be in Mapleview Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
Share memories and condolences at www.gentrysmithfuneralhome.com Gentry-Smith Funeral Home, 303 Murfreesboro Rd. Woodbury, TN 37190, 615-563-5337 Because every life has a story