Shirley Agnes Wells Sergent, 89

WILMINGTON — Shirley Agnes Wells Sergent, 89, passed away late Monday afternoon on September 6, 2021 from complications due to COVID-19 at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, Wilmington. 

Born May 9, 1932 in Willow Island, WV, she was the daughter of the late George William Wells and Theresa. B. Hawkins Wells.  She was proceeded in death by her husband of 31 years, Donald Dale Sergent, and her son-in-law, Jeffrey Phenicie.

Shirley is survived by three daughters and two son-in-laws, Shelia Phenicie of Wilmington, NC, Stephanie Daniel (Bruce) of Clemmons, NC, and Shari Whitten (Travis) of Jacksonville, NC.  She is also survived by 6 grandchildren (Grant and Gavin Daniel; Jennifer Clemmons (Scott); Christy Thompson (Will); Janna Watson (Mike); and Sally Phenicie; and 8 great grandchildren (Tyler Phenicie, Aleah Thompson, Grayson Thompson, Blaire Clemmons, Dylan Watson, Cale Watson, McKenzie Alexander, and Jeylin Phenicie).

Shirley was a loving and devoted wife, mother, daughter, niece, and caregiver to many.  Shirley grew up on her family’s farm in Willow Island, WV, and shared many stories about her life and work on the farm.  Following graduation from high school, she attended nursing school in Parkersburg, WV, where she completed her Registered Nurse (RN) education and training.  She practiced as a Registered Nurse in WV, and Charleston, SC, providing care to hospitalized patients on a variety of medical specialty units including cardiology, OB/GYN, and Geriatrics over the course of her nursing career.  Shirley often worked the night shift at the hospital which allowed her to work at night, sleep during the day while her children were in school, and then be actively involved in her children’s educational and extracurricular activities in the afternoons and evenings.  She served as a Girl Scout leader and room parent for her daughters Girl Scout troops, and classrooms, respectively.  Shirley was an excellent cook, and her Sunday lunch meals hold especially fond memories for her family. Shirley was also known for her “Shirley-isms,” quirky sayings or phrases that likely had regional or geographic significance.  During her nursing career, she also served as a Director of Nursing at a long-term care facility (Greenlawn Nursing Home),and was passionate about quality care for elderly patients.  Shirley retired from nursing in 1997, and moved to Wilmington, NC to be closer to her family. 

Following retirement, Shirley volunteered with Meals on Wheels to deliver meals to homebound seniors in Wilmington, NC.  Shirley was an avid reader, and enjoyed participating in book exchanges.  She also spent time with her daughters and their families, enjoying travel, good food, and family celebrations. 

Due to hip replacement surgery and a chronically broken and dislocated shoulder, her final years were lived at Accordius Health (formerly Wilmington Health and Rehabilitation Center).  While there, she prided herself in her ability to continue to take care of herself and to complete her daily exercises to maintain her strength and mobility despite her hip and shoulder limitations.  She enjoyed playing cards with her friends there as well as her family, and developed a reputation as quite the “card shark” with her “Gin Rummy” card playing skills.  She also was expert at completing word puzzles of any kind.  Playing bingo, making crafts, and attending church services there were also among her favorite things to do.  Given her nursing and caretaker background and history, she often would assist other residents at the facility with basic needs or alert staff to potential patient concerns. 

Throughout her lifetime, Shirley was an active member of her church singing in the choir, serving as a Vacation Bible School Director and teacher, supporting women in mission activities, and contributing to other events and activities within her church congregation.  Shirley was known for always putting others first, and for taking care of those in need no matter the need or personal situation (even for near strangers).  Most recently, she was a member of Cape Fear Baptist Church in Wilmington, NC.

Services honoring the life of Shirley will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, September 17, 2021 at Cape Fear Baptist Church, 7300 Carolina Beach Road, Wilmington, 28412, where the family will receive friends and family from 10:00 AM until the time of Services.  Interment will follow on Monday, September 20, 2021 at Willow Island Baptist Church Cemetery, in Willow Island, WV.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Meals on Wheels, PO Box 3593, Wilmington, NC 28406.

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