Shirley Ann Lambert Oatman
Williston - Shirley Ann Lambert Oatman, 81, longtime resident of Williston, Vermont, died at Albany Medical Center in Albany, New York on Tuesday, January 1st, 2019. Her youngest son Thomas Oatman was by her side when she passed, peacefully, and on her own terms.
Born at home on June 29th, 1937 to Thomas and Marilla Lambert of Monmouth Junction, New Jersey, she was one of five children including Barbara, Marion, Joan and Tom. Her father was in construction and her parents owned "White House Rest," a motel with cabins.
Early on, Shirley excelled at academics and was deeply involved in 4-H. She studied tap dancing and played the accordion - often simultaneously. At Jamestown High School she became an athlete, varsity cheerleader, and was editor of the '55 yearbook. She participated in New Jersey Girls' State and was class Valedictorian.
At Keene State Teacher's College in New Hampshire, Shirley majored in home economics, played volleyball, softball and was active in student government. She was voted Winter Carnival Queen in 1958 and was listed in "Who's Who," in 1959. Shirley was a member of the Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society, and it was at Keene where she met fellow student - and her future husband - Gordon Oatman. She later taught home economics in Long Beach Island, New Jersey, and in Vermont at Wallingford High School.
Shirley married Gordon on July 20, 1963, their union lasting 55 years. Together, the Oatmans went camping, boating and worked on their home, which they built in 1964. A homemaker of diverse skills, she enjoyed canning the bounty of their garden. She loved to sew, making clothes for her boys that they were rarely excited to wear.
A Roman Catholic, Shirley attended The Immaculate Heart of Mary Church and volunteered on the Parish Council. She was active in the town of Williston, co-chairing the 4th of July Celebration in 1976 with her husband. After her teaching career, Shirley worked in IBM's clean rooms, sold appliances, worked for a local daycare and was employed by the Chittenden Bank.
An entrepreneur, Shirley founded the Microwave Cooking School in the late-1970s. It was the first such venture in Vermont. Technological innovation sparked her curiosity, and neighborhood kids called her kitchen "Mission Control." In 1983 she was invited by Cornell University to conduct bacterial research on microwaved food, spending a semester at their laboratories. Making several appearances on WCAX TV's "Across the Fence" program, she taught hundreds of women (and a few men) how to cook using space-age technology.
But Shirley also had an artist's mind, making complex connections between ideas, images and history. She lived vividly between her earliest memories and the present day. Shirley encouraged her sons to draw and play sports, and was a neighborhood mom, cooking and caring for everyone. She was the family chronicler and a prolific correspondent.
Shirley's family remembers her as a loving, hilarious, intellectually curious person. At her core she loved being a Mother - every part of it - and took great pride in her sons and grandchildren. She is survived by her brother, Thomas Lambert and his wife Estelle; her children, Michael and Thomas, and Thomas' family: wife Gretchen, daughters Annie and Katherine, and sons Matthew and Gordon; niece Judy Sved; nephew Jimmy Catelli; nephew Jack Stone; and her sister-in-law Joyce Sambogna. After the 2018 death of her beloved husband, she moved to Troy, New York and lived with her eldest son Michael Oatman, and Debora Ose, her other caregiver and a family friend.
A Roman Catholic service is scheduled for 11 am, Wednesday, January 9th at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Williston, VT. Celebration to follow from 12:30 at Catamount Country Club, 1400 Mountain View Road, also in Williston, VT. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the 4-H, online at: 4-H.org
To send flowers to Shirley's family, please visit our floral section.