Shirley M. Harrington

Shirley M. Harrington

Shirley M. Harrington

ALTAMONT — Shirley Harrington “was a devoted mother with a wonderful sense of humor, who would make everybody feel welcome,” said her daughter, Ellen Fisher.

Shirley M. (née Merriman) Harrington died unexpectedly at her home surrounded by her family on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018. She was 83.

Mrs. Harrington was born in Albany on Oct. 2, 1934, to Joseph and Emily (née Wend) Merriman.  

Mr. Merriman worked as a plumber, and Mrs. Merriman was a homemaker.

After graduating from Vincentian Institute, a Catholic school in Albany, Mrs. Harrington worked as a secretary until she was 21, when she married James D. Harrington Sr.

She had known Mr. Harrington since she was 16 or 17, Mrs. Fisher said, and, when he joined the Navy, she waited and married him when he returned home.

Mrs. Fisher recently found a box containing letters with postmarks from all over the world, a keepsake of her mother from her father’s time in the Navy. “She told me that he wrote her letters that said, ‘When I get home, I hope that you will want to marry me,’” Mrs. Fisher said.

After living in apartments in Albany, around 1960 or 1961, the couple purchased a plot of land on Thatcher Drive for $500. When he wasn’t working, Mr. Harrington along with his brother and some neighbors, would build the home where the couple would eventually raise five children and where they would spend the rest of their lives together.

After Mrs. Harrington had spent a lifetime living in the city, “Her father said she was crazy to move there,” Mrs. Fisher recounted.  

“Then she found out that it was a wonderful place to live, a wonderful place for children to grow, and a wonderful school district — she never had to worry about us when we are out playing,” said Mrs. Fisher.

“Our house was loud, because there were four boys and one girl, but it was a house that was full of laughter,” Mrs. Fisher said. “My father was goofy, my mother was goofy; they just wanted to have a good time with their children.”

“They were a devoted couple … It was a great household to grow up in — we were always happy,” Mrs. Fisher said.

When she wasn’t spending time with her five children, Mrs. Harrington liked to play Bingo, and more recently she enjoyed going to the casino, her daughter said. “And, of course, she loved spending time on the lake, that was her favorite place to be.”

The lake was Efner Lake in the Adirondacks.

“That was her favorite thing — for all of her family to be around her at the lake,” Mrs. Fisher said.

After her youngest children were in school, Mrs. Harrington went back to work as a file clerk for the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance; working there for 10 years, retiring in 1995.

In retirement, Mr. and Mrs. Harrington enjoyed spending their time traveling to Maine, heading down to Atlantic City in New Jersey, and, of course, spending time on Efner Lake. Their union ended only with Mr. Harrington’s death in 2002.

Mrs. Harrington was religious albeit a slightly unconventional Catholic.

“The funny thing is that she did not go to church, but she did her Rosary every day and would pray,” Mrs. Fisher said. “I always said, ‘Ma, even though you don’t go to church, you’re probably more religious than the people who are there.’ She had a list of everybody that she was praying for, and she would add people to it all the time — family and friends that needed praying for.”

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Shirley M. Harrington is survived by five children: James D. Harrington Jr. and his wife, Lynda, of Delanson, Jeffrey J. Harrington of Guilderland, Ellen H. Fisher and her husband, Kirk, of Guilderland, Eric S. Harrington of Altamont, and Greg S. Harrington and his wife, Patti, of Glenmont.

She is also by her nine grandchildren: Jessica Harrington and her partner, Marc Ammann, Rachel H. Page and her husband, Brian, Daniel Harrington and his wife, Corinne, Sean Harrington, Alex Fisher, Chloe Fisher, Kristin Harrington, Zachary Harrington, and Katie Harrington; by her great-granddaughter, Norah Jane Harrington; by her two sisters: Dolores Agneta of Albany and Connie Merriman of Latham; she is also survived by several nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Her husband, James D. Harrington Sr., died before her, as did her brother-in-law, Michael Agneta.

Calling hours will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 21, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Fredendall Funeral Home, at 199 Main Street, in Altamont. A funeral service will be held Thursday Feb. 22, at 10 a.m. at Fredendall Funeral Home. Burial will be at Memory Gardens in Colonie.

Memorial contributions may be made to Altamont Rescue Squad, Post Office Box 56, Altamont, NY 12009, or to Western Turnpike Rescue Squad, 200 Centre Dr., Albany, NY 12203.  

— Sean Mulkerrin

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