Honoring Tradition.
Celebrating Life.

Shirley Gebhart

April 16, 1933 - January 11, 2019
Plainfield Twp, MI



Friday, January 25, 2019
12:00 PM to 1:00 PM EST
New Bethel Baptist Church
8936 Southeastern Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46239

Friends may visit at the church prior to the graveside service at 1 PM.


Graveside Service

Friday, January 25, 2019
1:00 PM EST
Orchard Hill/ New Bethel Cemetery
8936 Southeastern Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46239


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

Pinky's Palace
4790 Alpine Ave NW
Comstock Park, MI 49321
(616) 419-4421

Pinky's Palace is a non-profit organization that provides assistance to families who have a loved one with dementia. They also raise funds through their store, Pinky's Place.

Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Shirley Lee Gebhart was born on April 16, 1933 to Fred and Ella (Masters) Smallwood. Growing up in Underwood, Indiana, Shirley was the eighth of twelve children and her 6 brothers and 5 sisters meant the world to her. She also adored her father and loved her mother dearly. During her last week of her senior year, the teacher asked if there was anything else that the class wanted to learn. Shirley raised her hand and said I want to learn to yodel. She was promptly expelled for the day. Henryville High School did let her go on to graduate with her classmates in 1949.

Shirley moved to Cumberland Indiana in the spring of 1950 to help her sister Maude, who had a houseful of children. She worked part-time at Buckley's Restaurant and attended Cumberland 1st Baptist Church. Shirley met and married Wes Bullock in January of 1951. Together they moved to Indianapolis where she worked part-time painting cookie jars for Harper J Ransburg. While living there they had two daughters, Vickie and Lois.

In 1956 the family moved to Plainfield where Shirley quickly made friends. When the girls began school, she was active with the PTA and a leader for Girl Scout Troop #10. Her scout nickname was Posey. She taught the scouts how to make sit-a-pons, buddy burners, and many other crafts including necklaces out of chicken bones and many crafts out of pine cones.

In 1958, Shirley attended a Billy Graham Crusade, where she gave her life to the Lord. She quickly fell in love with reading her Bible and sharing God’s love. While attending First Baptist Church of Plainfield, Shirley taught Sunday School and became very active with the women’s missionary group. One of the projects was to make clothing for the missionaries to take to the children in other countries. Shirley had boxes of donated fabric stacked in the closet, but once, in her haste to make dresses for Vickie and Lois, she mistakenly used fabric that was for missions. The ladies of the church had a good laugh. With Shirley's since of humor, she had her daughters wear those "Missionary Dresses" for the church directory pictures.

During the summer of 1965, the family moved to Decatur Twp. in Indianapolis. Two years later they welcomed daughter number 3, Tina Marie, to the family. Shirley and Wes divorced in 1971. Two years later, Shirley remarried. On November 5, 1973 Richard Gebhart and Shirley said "I DO" in a private ceremony at her home. She welcomed Rich's 3 children to her heart. After some time they invited Kelly and Chris to their home as foster children, who still call her mom to this day.

In the summer of 1974, Shirley and Rich bought a mini farm of 13 acres in Franklin Twp., Wanamaker Indiana. At that time, CB radios were big. Rich's handle was City Farmer and Shirley's was Dainty Farmer, names they were known by to this day. Shirley opened the first licensed day care in Marion County and "Dainty Farmers Day Care" was always full and had a constant waiting list. Each year they would have three tons of sand delivered to the sand box and often questioned where all that sand went. Shirley would chuckle and say, "Home in the shoes and pockets of all the little dudes."

The small farm had a large garden, lots of flowers, pigs, cows, chickens, rabbits, horses, cats and always a dog. Each year Shirley would invite her niece Kathy to bring her special needs class to the farm so they could experience farm life. She was also very active with Marion County 4H.

Shirley and Rich were very active at Indian Creek Christian Church. Shirley was Miss Hospitality. Always early to church and the last to leave, her purpose was to make sure everyone, especially visitors, were welcomed. She loved music and singing; however a pretty voice was not hers. When she wanted to join the church choir, the director didn't want to tell her no, so she stood with the choir singing VERY quietly, lip singing and smiling. When Shirley and Rich could no longer get out to church, they would say to each other, "It is time for church. The Gaithers are on TV."

Shirley loved bird watching, reading, gardening, crocheting, quilting, crafting, garage sales and auctions. She even had an addiction to Mountain Dew. However, her favorite thing was talking and she never knew a stranger. Whether at the Post Office, Wheatlies Market, the Feed Store or Krogers, everyone knew Dainty Farmer and City Farmer.

Shirley would can over 200 quarts of green beans, tomatoes, and applesauce each year. She would say "Don't touch the jars until you hear the music of the jar lids popping." Then and only then could the family enjoy the harvest. Her grandkids still talk about her yummy green beans and applesauce. She also made a delicious berry cobbler.

Christmas and Birthday parties were her favorite time at the farm. She would sit under the catalpa tree in the swing watching her grandkids climb higher and higher. She would sing and rock them singing her made up song, "Mommy Daddy, Daddy Mommy." Washing off in the cow trough, hosing down in the yard, drinking sweet tea, writing on the walls of the attic bedroom, tractor rides, horse riding, picking berries, snapping beans, playing in the barn loft and play house, and so much more are some of the many memories of the grandkids. Shirley even took Stevie Dale to the dump to watch the trash trucks because he wanted to be a trash man. She made afghans for the grandkids and embroidered flowers on Jessica's onesies so she wasn't wearing her brothers onesies. Later they were made into a quilt. Schwan’s ice cream sandwiches, drumsticks, and fudgies were always in the freezer. Their grandchildren say Granny and Poppy were the farm and they are better people today because of them.

After Richard passed away in April of 2015, The girls moved Shirley to Grand Rapids Michigan so she would be close to Vickie. She lived at Vista Springs Northview. She delighted in pushing her great-grand-daughter Chloe, down the halls in her walker. She especially enjoyed when her grandkids came to sing and perform for her. She helped make two baby quilts for her newest great grandbabies twins - a boy and a girl born the early part of December 2018.

As the disease of dementia took its toll, caused by a serious fall and brain injury, she would often be upset by her memory. But Vickie would laugh and say "That's ok Mommy, you just have my crazy brain too." They then would laugh together and say that's right!

The wonderful caring and loving staff at Vista Springs loved her humor, feistiness, and spunky nature. She was known to even play “possum” from time to time when she didn't want to be bothered or do as she was asked. One time she even quickly opened her eyes and said “Boo”, scaring her aide. Just five days before her death, she was asked by her daughters if they could do her nails. She said no. Three times they asked her and on the third time she opened her eyes and said "Shut up! I'm the mom!" Having her know her family right to the very end is truly a blessing that the family will cherish forever.

Her family is very thankful for the staff at Vista Springs, Joan Ryder at Reliance, and Great Lakes Hospice - especially Rachel and Jen for their gentle caring kindness in her last days.

Shirley's faith and belief in Jesus Christ and His salvation was her peace and joy. Her prayer was that all she loved and knew would come to that saving knowledge of the Lord. This brings such peace to her family, knowing soon and very soon we will see her again in Heaven above.

Shirley's loving, caring, spunky spirit will live on through her family until we meet again on Heaven’s shores.

Shirley Lee Gebhart “Dainty Farmer”, age 85, passed away on Jan 11, 2019. She was preceded in death by her husband, Richard D. Gebhart. Shirley is survived by her children, Vickie (Don) Cooper, Lois Polley, Tina (Richard) Knebel, Richard (Rosina) Gebhart Jr., Bunny (Tom) Alderete, Todd (Kristy) Gebhart, Kelly Jacobs and Chris Culver; 21 grandchildren; 25 great-grandchildren; sister, Jean Cothern; and many nieces and nephews. Friends and family are invited to meet for a time of remembrance at New Bethel Baptist Church of Wanamaker at 12:00. A graveside service will take place at 1PM on Friday, January 25, 2019 at Orchard Hill/ New Bethel Cemetery in Wanamaker, Indiana. For those who wish, memorial contributions to Pinky's Palace are appreciated. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to submit your favorite photo, memory or to sign the guestbook online.