DECATUR — Beloved wife, mother, “Nana,” aunt and friend Shirley Ann Braswell Coleman died May 19, 2020 in Decatur, Alabama at the age of 92.
Born to John Olan and Ethel Lanier Braswell in Mt. Vernon, Ohio, her father’s work with the Tennessee Valley Authority took them to Alabama, Tennessee and North Carolina. They returned to Decatur when Shirley entered the ninth grade at Riverside High School where she played saxophone and clarinet in band and sang in the glee club. She met her future husband A.J. Coleman in high school and they graduated together in 1946. Shirley went to Huntington College then transferred to Auburn University where she was active in many activities including the drama club Auburn Players, and Chi Omega fraternity. She was selected for Who’s Who at Auburn University and graduated with a degree in education. She then taught at West Decatur Elementary School and later worked as a case worker for the Department of Pensions and Security.
Shirley’s great passion in life was creating a joy-filled life for her family, living out her faith and serving and encouraging others with great love, compassion, strength and humor. She served in many ways at Decatur’s First Presbyterian Church including being a Sunday school teacher, choir member and soloist, member of many committees and the Women’s Circle, and as a deacon and an elder. She was president of the Decatur Junior Service League and also chaired several committees. She was a board member for Hospice of the Valley, the Presbyterian Home for Children and Meals on Wheels. Along with her husband A.J. and Dr. Tom Salter, she organized a group for grieving parents who had lost children, which later became Compassionate Friends.
She will be remembered for her smile which would light up a room, her wise and loving counsel, and for her gift of making others feel valued and special. As a self-proclaimed “chocoholic” and people person, Shirley enjoyed sharing a biscotti with everyone she knew. She loved looking into a person’s eyes and seeing the beauty there, either giving a compliment, telling them how good it was to see them, or telling them how special they were as a person. Her calendar was full of names of people to call on their birthday to wish them well. Having suffered the intense grief of losing their teenage son, she once wrote that she became more aware of others’ pain which made her a more caring person treasuring friendships and people.
She was preceded in death by her beloved husband of 59 years, Abraham Jordan “A.J.” Coleman III, her son Taylor Jordan Coleman, and her brother and his wife, John and Jean Braswell, and A.J.’s sisters Sarah Pearce (Henon) and Anne Crane (Gil).
She is survived by her son, Brian Lanier Coleman (Nancy), grandsons Taylor and Alec Coleman; her daughter, Melissa Coleman Enslen (Alan), granddaughter Lindsey Enslen Maurel (Jacob) and grandson Wilson Enslen; cousins Bettye Lanier Stanley, Becky Lanier Crackel (Ed), Leonard Lanier Jr. (Brenda), Reverend Patricia Lanier Kirk and Howard Lanier Jr.(Judy); nieces and nephews John Braswell, Keith Braswell, Karen Braswell Cole (Keith), Hank Pearce (Beth), John Pearce (Cerise), Tillman Crane (Donna), Beth Crane Anderson (Glenn), Lee Crane Nabors (Rip) and Bailey Crane and many great-nieces and great-nephews.
Hartselle Heritage Funeral Home is assisting the family. A graveside service will be held Saturday, May 23, 2020 at 1 p.m. at Decatur City Cemetery with Reverend Richard Brooks officiating. Enter via the Wilson Street NW entrance. A celebration of life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Camp Maranatha Camp & Conference Center at https://maranatha.camp/.