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Obituary for Shirley Chaiken

We are sorry to let you know that a former GMRHG member, Shirley Chaiken, has died. Her daughter, Alison, contacted the guild with this news and sent along the obituary below. GMRHG and hooking were important to Shirley and I’m sure many of you knew her. I’ve sent our condolences to her daughter.


Shirley Choate Chaiken died recently in Concord, NH at the age of 80. She was born in Philadelphia to Ernest A. Choate and Mary Craig Choate. She grew up in Jenkintown, PA, where her father was high-school principal. Her father instilled in Shirley a love of birdwatching, a pastime which she enjoyed throughout her life.

Shirley attended Penn State University, where she earned a degree in Education. At PSU she met Sheldon Chaiken, whom she married in 1958. The couple lived initially in San Francisco, and then moved to Bucks County, PA, where she worked as an elementary school teacher. In 1962, she and her husband had their first child, a daughter, and in 1964 a son followed. After living for a time in Denver and Los Angeles, Shirley and her family returned to the East Coast in 1975. The couple divorced in 1993, and in later years, Shirley moved to Lebanon, New Hampshire to be close to her son and his family.

SC-wikipedia-rugShirley was gifted with exquisite taste and consummate skill in making handcrafts. In the 1970’s, both the Philadelphia Inquirer and Denver Post magazine sections included some photos of her “black and brass” interior design of the family’s home. In 2010, the Green Mountain Hooking Guild in Vermont held a show in which she was a featured artist. One of her rugs that depicts pots of flowers appears in the Wikipedia “Rug Hooking” article. Her family and friends delighted in receiving a continuous stream of handmade gifts, notably sweaters, socks, rugs, hats and mittens.

Shirley is survived by her daughter, Alison Chaiken of Mountain View, CA, plus her son, Gary Chaiken and daughter-in-law Timmee Whitmore and grandson Cooper Chaiken, all of Campton, NH. Remembrance gifts may be made to the National Audobon Society.

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