Tributes Pour In for Beloved Alumna Shirley Purkis

The Queen’s community is sharing fond memories of Shirley Purkis (nee Ayres), an Arts’41 graduate and long-time Queen’s volunteer well known on campus, who died on Jan. 23 at the age of 100.

“Shirley exemplified the spirit that makes Queen’s special to so many people,” says Acting Associate Vice-Principal Leigh Kalin, Artsci'92. “She was dedicated to helping her community and her contributions will resonate long into the future. I know the Queen’s community will join me in expressing how deeply she will be missed.”

Mrs. Purkis was a proud Queen’s alumna who remained connected to the university through numerous volunteer roles over several decades. Her many roles on campus included serving as president of the Queen’s University Alumnae Association (which merged with the Queen’s University Alumni Association in the 1990s), the Kingston Alumni Branch, and the Faculty Women’s Club (later called the Queen’s Women’s Association).  

In 2019, the QUAA recognized her decades of effort when she and her second husband, John (a Com’48 grad who passed away last year), received the Herbert J. Hamilton Volunteer Service Award. Together, Shirley and John had more than 140 years of volunteer service at Queen’s.

Mrs. Purkis was predeceased by her first husband of more than 50 years, Joseph Warren Brooks (1995), a former Queen’s civil engineering professor. 

In recent years, Mrs. Purkis still made regular trips to campus and enjoyed talking with staff and students. She attended Homecoming 2019 in October, a few weeks before turning 100 years old.

Since the news was shared on social media this week dozens of alumni and friends have been paying tribute to Mrs. Purkis online.

Learn more Mrs. Purkis on the Robert J. Reid & Sons Funeral Home website.