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Obituary for Shirley Jeanne Harper

April 21, 1935 – May 1, 2023

Shirley Jeanne Harper, 88 of Franklin, Wis., formerly of Fairfield, Ill., tragically left this world on May 1, 2023, in Divernon, Ill.

Shirley Jeanne Harper
Shirley Jeanne Harper

Shirley came into the world on April 21, 1935, to parents Alvin G. Adler and Barbara Stewart. As a young child during the Great Depression, Shirley’s life was tumultuous and she was sent to live with various family members in Wisconsin and Chicago. She and her first husband, Robert Wicinski, met and fell in love in high school and they were married while he was in the service.

The family that Shirley had always longed for began to emerge and before she knew it, she had her first child, Steven. Her joy was quickly followed by sorrow when he died of pneumonia before he was one. Soon after, heaven sent another child to love, and then five more followed. Shirley’s life revolved around her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Though her marriage to Robert didn’t last, they remained friends until he died.

Shirley found a kindred spirit in Lee Harper, her second husband, and they spent many years together, building a life and a campground in Southern Illinois. The campground laid the groundwork for a family of hard-working individuals and created many happy memories, including square dancing in the pavilion, fish fries with campers, pig roasts, and Fall funfest among them. It was hard but enjoyable work, and by the end of Fall, everyone looked forward to the relaxation that came with Winter.

After the campground closed, she spent many years working for Illinois public aid, where she had great satisfaction assisting those in need, and creating a family of co-workers that she remained friends with from afar after retiring and moving to Wisconsin.

Shirley enjoyed a good conversation about the world, history, food, sports and updates about the family. She loved quilting, a craft also enjoyed by her mother and created many quilts that were given to family and friends. She was planning a move to the St. Louis area and planned to continue collaborating on family quilts with her daughter.

Shirley was a wonderful wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother (aka GG), and will be sorely missed by the tribe she created. She is survived by her children: Greg Wicinski (Daria), McHenry, Ill.; Rhonda Shedron (Gary), Chesterfield, Mo.; Brian Wicinski (Mary), Wind Lake, Wis.; Michael Wicinski (Sherry), Racine, Wis.; Therese Wicinski Shaffer (Tim), Milwaukee, Wis.; and Robert Wicinski, Farifield, Ill.; grandchildren: Anthony Wicinski, Rachael Unverferth (Matthew), Keegan Tomik (Huijiao, aka Jess), Kyle Tomik, Hayden Wicinski, Colton Wicinski, Erica Wicinski (fiancé Andrew), Alexandrea Wicinski (partner Kevin), and Devin Wicinski; great-grandchildren: Haley and Aiden Wicinski, Hudson, Nash and Wells Unverferth, and the newest arrival that she never met, Riley Woods.

She was preceded in death by her son, Steven Wicinski, father, Alvin Adler, mother, Barbara Vocke, and husband, Lee Harper.


A memorial celebrating her life will be held at the Integrity Celebration Center, (2789 Browns Lake Drive, Burlington, WI 53105) on Saturday, May 27, 2023, from 2-5 p.m. Shirley loved Chicago Bears football and was down to earth, so if you are able to join us, please dress casual and bring your stories!

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Shirley (Adler) Harper, please visit the Integrity Funeral Services floral store.

Obituary and photo courtesy of Integrity Funeral Services.

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