Shirley M. Dommers, 96, passed away peacefully on Wednesday December 15, 2021 at Silverado North Shore Memory Care Community in Glendale, WI. She was married to Dr. Paul Dommers from 1950 to 1992. The couple began married life in Savannah, IL; lived in Germany for 2 years while Paul served in the army, then lived the majority of their lives in Belvidere, IL; followed by a shorter time in Rockford, IL. Though divorced, they spent time together with their 2 children and 4 grandchildren until Paul passed away in 2008.
Born 12/4/1925 in Kansas City, MO, Shirley was the only child of Richard and Helen (nee Behrens) Mueller. Because her father’s employment required relocating, Shirley also lived in Chicago, IL; Denver, CO; Indianapolis, IN; St. Joseph, MO; and Dubuque, IA, while growing up. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education (PE) from the University of Iowa (UI) in 1947 and taught PE at Ward Belmont College in Nashville, TN, from 1947 to 1949.
While in Belvidere, Shirley was a member of the Zion Lutheran Church, Bel Mar and Mauh-Nah-Tee-See Country Clubs, and the Clock Tower Tennis Club. She assisted with the Junior Golf program, served on hospital axillary boards, and hosted international exchange students. She later attended the Court Street Methodist Church in Rockford, supported youth golf through the Rockford Park District, and was a member of the Rockford Bridge Center and Rockford Country Club. Shirley served on the Illinois Women’s Golf Association (IWGA) board for 24 years including a term as president. She served on the Women’s Western Golf Association board for 6 years.
Over the years Shirley enjoyed many sports and card games. She earned Silver Life Master status from the American Contract Bridge League in 2013. To everyone’s chagrin, she was always the biggest winner at family reunion poker games. Shirley was a loyal Chicago Bears and Cubs fan. She also followed UI sports. She enjoyed fishing, bowling, ping pong, and as a youth won multiple city singles and mixed doubles tennis titles. However, it was golf that captured her heart.
Shirley quickly blossomed into an amateur champion and lifelong golf devotee after taking golf lessons at age 14. She was dubbed the “Golfing Cinderella” in the February 1947 edition of national publication “The Woman Golfer”, due to her unknown status when, at 19, she captured medalist honors and made a dramatic come-from-behind victory over Ann Casey (Johnstone) in the 1946 Iowa State Amateur championship. She competed in numerous national pro-am tournaments at the Tam O’ Shanter Country Club, Chicago, IL, from 1945-1952 where she teed up with the likes of Ladies Professional Golf Association co-founders Patty Berg, Marilynn Smith, Betty Jameson, Louise Suggs, and Babe Didrikson Zaharias. Due to her teaching position at Ward Belmont, Shirley was deemed a professional from 1947-1949. During her brief stint as a pro she finished “in the money” twice. In June 1949 Shirley was appointed Club Professional at Silver Lakes Golf Club, Orland Park, IL: an unprecedented role for a woman at the time. She resumed amateur status after leaving teaching positions and competed in numerous state, national, and international golf tournaments between 1951 and 1975. Highlights include: winning both the Swiss and the Italian International tournaments, Low Amateur and Second Low Amateur in Cosmopolitan Women’s Open tournaments, 5 Illinois State Amateur championships, 4 Illinois State Amateur Senior championships and Runner-up at a Women’s Western Amateur. In 2008 Shirley was inducted into both the IWGA Hall of Fame and the Rockford Area Golf Hall of Fame. The IWGA named the trophy for medalist honors after Shirley in 2016.
Shirley will be remembered by her family as a gracious hostess, an astute and strong leader, a faithful supporter, and a gritty competitor. She demonstrated strong will and mental toughness in difficult times. They will especially remember Shirley for great times had on family vacations and for her generosity in supporting their educations. Shirley cherished her many golf and bridge buddies. She was a true role model and is much beloved.
Shirley is survived by daughter Denise Davis, Cedarburg, WI; son Dr. Martin Dommers, Columbia, SC; 4 grandchildren, and 2 great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by former husband Dr. Paul Dommers.
A private memorial service and interment will be scheduled for later this year.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to the Alzheimer’s Association (act.alz.org) or the Illinois Women’s Golf Association Victory Fund (iwga.org) are welcome.
HERITAGE FUNERAL HOME