Cover photo for Shirley Luella Stanfield's Obituary
1928 Shirley 2023

Shirley Luella Stanfield

June 8, 1928 — September 17, 2023

Athens, Georgia

Shirley Stanfield departed this life on September 17, 2023. She was born on June 8, 1928 in Chicago Illinois, the youngest daughter of Frank and Luella Burton. She graduated from Baylor University in 1950 with a degree in English. Shirley worked as a stewardess with Braniff Airlines from her graduation until her marriage in December, 1953 to Lynn Stanfield. They were married six months after their first meeting – a marriage that lasted for 62 years until Lynn’s passing one day past their wedding anniversary. When she and Lynn decided a career change was needed to allow him more time at home with his family, they settled in Athens to open Stanfield Air Systems in 1968. The new venture was only possible because of Shirley’s unwavering support. She and Lynn had four children, five grandchildren, and one great grandchild. Shirley had a warm smile that lit up the room.

Shirley was preceded in death by her parents Frank and Luella, her brother Bryant, her sister Donna, her husband, Lynn, and their daughter, Leslie. She is survived by her children Carter, Richard, and Sally; her grandchildren Ashley, Clinton, Kyle, Christina, and Preston; and her great grandchild: Sophie.

Visitation will be at the Day Chapel Reception Room at the State Botanical Garden on Thursday, September 28th at 5:00 p.m. with funeral service beginning in the Chapel at 6:00 pm. A private burial at Oconee Hills Cemetery will precede visitation.

Lord & Stephens Funeral Home, EAST, Athens is entrusted with arrangements.

Moms Life

by Carter Stanfield

Mom gave her family everything we needed to be successful in life. If you met Shirley for the first time within the last few years of her life you really did not have a chance to fully appreciate mom. As her body wore out it became more and more difficult for her to shine through. I would like to take a few minutes to introduce you.

Shirley Burton was born June 8, 1928, the youngest daughter of Frank and Luella Burton. She used to say that she was a little surprise because her brother and sister were quite a bit older than her. From her childhood stories I know she was received as a blessing. The stories I remember her telling include a dog named Carlo that liked to stick his head under water and blow bubbles, and a crow named Jim that her dad held conversations with. Her family lived in Chicago when she was younger. Her father would flood the back yard to create a skating rink in the winter. They later moved to Dallas, where she graduated from Sunset High School. She attended Baylor University where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in English. She told stories of how strict life was at Baylor, while at the same time, describing how the students managed to find ways to socialize. For example, no dancing was allowed on campus, but she attended dances off campus. Mom was a good dancer.

After college she became a stewardess for Braniff Airlines. This was the era when airlines only employed attractive, unmarried female hostesses. Mom was movie-star gorgeous with a smile that lit up the room. She remained photo-genic though out her life. When she smiles, life’s challenges seem to recede to insignificance.

One of her more memorable adventures was serving on a DC3 when it landed in a corn field because of a suspected emergency mechanical malfunction. After examining the plane, the mechanics determined that nothing was really wrong, so the pilot along with the stewardesses took off from the cornfield. Just to be on the safe side, passengers were bussed out, but the stewardesses remained on the plane and took off from the cornfield.

She met dad, Lynn Stanfield, in June of 1953. They lived in the same apartment building. She lived with two room-mates, all three of them stewardesses. It had not escaped my father’s attention that three attractive young women lived in the same building. He convinced the land-lord, Dora Lean, to give him their phone number. This was when phone numbers just got you to a room or a building, not a specific person. Dad said he intended to ask whoever answered out for a date, not ever having actually met any of them. This tells you something about dad, he was supremely confident and a good salesman. Well, Shirley answered the phone. Dad’s line was that he believed in the good neighbor policy, and it worked!  Shirley accepted a date to go dancing. It turns out dad was a pretty good dancer. To hear both of them tell the story that first date sealed the deal. They were married soon after, December 20, 1953. In fact, the speed of the courtship convinced dad’s mom that a new family member was eminent, so Grandmother Leah visited my folks approximately 9 months after the wedding and declared that she was there to help everything go smoothly. However, I did not come along until 3 months later, in December of 1954. They DID have to get married, but not for the reason grandma Leah thought. The truth is dad knew he had won the lottery.

Mom was a really good cook.  I did not really appreciate that until I was cooking for myself. My friends in college thought cheesecake was something exotic, but mom made it quite often. I decided that what restaurants referred to as New York style cheesecake meant tiny slices of sort of dry without any topping cheesecake. Nobody makes roasts and oven browned potatoes like mom.  My kids loved her fruit salad. She added a bit of secret ingredient that you won’t find in fruit cups. Sunday dinners at mom and dad’s became a family tradition. One that I know we all looked forward to, and we missed when they were no longer possible.

She loved dogs. Growing up I can recall Dolly, Sam, EZ, DeDe and Hanzie; each with their own personality, and each loved by mom. She loved to discover bargains. In what became a tradition later in her life, Richard would take her out to lunch on Sunday and then they would visit the Goodwill store afterwards. She didn’t NEED anything, but the items were not the point. Enjoying her favorite activity, shopping, while spending time with Richard was what made those Sundays so enjoyable for her. She loved ice cream. Her grand-daughter Christina recalled how when you took mom out for ice cream, she would always look at it and say “I can’t possibly eat all that.” And then proceed to do exactly that. The last few days of her life she had quit eating and drinking, except for the Frosties from Wendy’s that Richard brought her. When you are 95, who is going to tell you that you can’t just eat ice cream?

My parents were not just dance partners, they were life partners. Together they raised three children me, Richard, and Sally, and bore the grief of losing a child to polio, my sister Leslie. Mom and dad built a business here in Athens: Stanfield Air Systems. Although mom did not work in the business, Dad would never have been able to start and build the business without mom’s support. He quit his good paying job, they sold their house, invested their life savings, and moved to a new city with their three kids to start a business in a field dad had never worked in. Many people don’t know that it was Shirley who saw the advertisement in the newspaper about starting an air conditioning business and encouraged dad to follow through. Her confidence in him and support made it possible. It was not easy. When dad started the business, he took a 6 week crash course in operating an air conditioning business. Five years later his was the only business left standing; all his classmates had gone out of business. But he had something they others did not, he was married to Shirley. She was the strength that held the family together and enabled us all to thrive.

Mom and dad took their wedding vows seriously, “to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part”. They were married for 62 years before dad’s death. He held on just a day past their anniversary.  I don’t believe mom ever truly accepted the parting at death portion of that vow. About a week before his death, I saw mom and dad holding hands while asleep on their bed, both exhausted; dad, from losing his fight with cancer, and mom from trying to hold on to him.

When you think of Shirley, don’t picture her frail, broken body. Instead, recall a woman whose considerable talent and strength were poured generously and lovingly into her family. We ARE her life’s work. Mom, your work is done here. We are all happy, healthy, and prosperous. I promise you, I promise you that we will take care of each other. I know you need to go now; your dance partner is waiting.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Shirley Luella Stanfield, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Thursday, September 28, 2023

5:00 - 6:00 pm (Eastern time)

Day Chapel at Botanical Gardens

2450 South Milledge Avenue, Athens, GA 30605

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Funeral Service

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Starts at 6:00 pm (Eastern time)

Day Chapel at Botanical Gardens

2450 South Milledge Avenue, Athens, GA 30605

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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