The Valdosta Daily Times
Dr. Alton Jason Shirah, 93, died on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013, at Daytona Beach, Fla. He was born in Byromville, Ga., the son of Alton Jason Shirah and Annie Mae Page Shirah. His elementary and high school training was received in Byromville public schools.
He attended Emory at Oxford and graduated with an A.B. degree from Emory University in 1941. He graduated from Yale Divinity School with a Master of Divinity degree in 1944. Lagrange College awarded him the Doctor of Divinity degree in 1962.
Dr. Shirah was ordained a deacon in the South Georgia Conference of the Methodist Church in 1944, and two years later was ordained Elder by Arthur J. Moore. He was received into full connection in 1946. He was founding pastor of Dawson Street United Methodist Church in Thomasville, Ga. While there, he married Jane Inman, his wife of 66 years. She survives him. Other assignments were Cochran, Fitzgerald, First Church Waycross; First Church Valdosta; St. Luke Columbus; District Superintendent of the Valdosta District. For the last 11 years of his ministry, he served as senior minister of Wesley Monumental United Methodist in Savannah, Ga.
He retired in 1987, after 43 years in the United Methodist ministry. He and his wife had continued to live in Savannah following his retirement.
Dr. Shirah was author of two books – For Children Mainly and A Pinch of Spice; Recollections of a Country Boy. He served the United Methodist Church in his active years as follows: Board of Trustees, Wesleyan College; Board of Trustees, Andrew College; Board of Trustees, Epworth By-The-Sea; Board of Trustees, Magnolia Manor; Board of Trustees, Methodist Home for Children and Youth, and Chairman for an extended period; Board of Trustees, Paine College; Chairman South Georgia Conference Board of Pensions; Chairman South Georgia Conference Board of Conference Claimants; Chairman, South Georgia Conference Board of Missions; General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. He was serving as trustee emeritus of Wesleyan College, Andrew College, Magnolia Manor, and the Methodist Home for Children and Youth at the time of his death.
He was the first elected clerical delegate and leader of the South Georgia Conference delegation to the General Conference in 1980. He was a member of the General Conference delegation in 1976, and of the Jurisdictional Conference delegation in 1972, 1976, 1980, and 1984.
He pursued his formal education with vigor and continued an active study schedule all his ministry and in subsequent years of retirement. He was known for his strength as a preacher and as one paid tribute to him at his retirement, “Somewhere along the way he fell in love with the English language.” A fascinating storyteller, he could be the unscheduled program in any social gathering. He had a spontaneous sense of humor that frequently erupted in a contagious outburst of laughter. His devotion to his ministry and his affection for his family were the soul of his life.
In retirement, he experienced the enjoyment of working with Historic Savannah Foundation and Grey Line Tours as a tour guide, exposing visitors to the beauty and history of the city that he loved.
In addition to his wife, Jane Inman Shirah, he is survived by four daughters and their husbands, Jane Shirah Stump and Robert Stump, Fort Valley; Mary Shirah Snyder, Columbus, Anne Shirah Dykes and Dan Dykes, Monroeville, Ala., Martha Shirah Brumbeloe and David Brumbeloe, Cartersville; 10 grandchildren, Jason Stump and Jennifer Stump, David Stump and Jennifer Stump, Susanna Zeigler and Sanford Zeigler, Benjamin Snyder and Michelle Snyder, Mary Catherine Snyder, Laura Snyder, Jane Inman Edenfield, Allison Edenfield, Sarah Brumbeloe, Christopher Brumbeloe, five great-grandchildren; and one sister, Mildred Shirah Kight, Cordele.
Visitation will take place at Fox and Weeks Funeral Directors, Hodgson Chapel, Savannah, on Friday, Sept. 20, 2013, from 5-7 p.m.
The funeral service will be conducted at Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church, on Calhoun Square, Savannah, at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013. Honorary seating for ministers and wives.
Interment will take place in Page Cemetery, Byromville, Ga. - Route 230, one mile east of Byromville on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, at 4:30 p.m. Pallbearers will be grandsons and sons-in-law.
Memorials: Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church, Permanent Endowment Fund 429 Abercorn Street, Savannah GA 31401; Wesleyan College, 4760 Forsyth Road, Macon, GA 31210; Andrew College, Cuthbert, GA 31740; Magnolia Manor, Americus, GA 31719; Methodist Home for Children and Youth, P.O. Box 2525 Macon, GA 31203. Please sign our on-line guest book at www.foxandweeks.com — Fox & Weeks Funeral Directors, Savannah