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Shirley Hood Loeffler
February 10,1927 – October 7, 2023
Former South Miami resident, self-taught painter, and biochemist Shirley Hood Loeffler died peacefully at age 96 at her Tequesta residence on Oct. 7.
Shirley was known for her realistic landscape oil paintings of the flora, fauna and vast expanses of the Everglades and other natural Florida scenes. Her talent garnered her collectors, awards, and invitations to numerous prestige art shows across the United States. Although she studied biochemistry intending to go to medical school, her life’s passion was art. She was interested in drawing from the moment she could hold a crayon, she often recalled. At age 47, after a 20-year career as a biochemist and raising her two children, she began to seriously pursue her artistic gifts, eventually painting and selling more than 1,200 canvases.
Shirley was born Feb. 10, 1927, in Southern Illinois’ Franklin County, a daughter of the late Joe Vernon Hood, Sr. and Flossie Phillips Hood. She grew up on a small farm in southern Illinois where she preferred picking wildflowers to feeding chickens. Although she attended a one-room, elementary school, she later graduated close to the top of her high school class. Her teachers encouraged her to pursue a ‘worthwhile’ profession.
In 1950, she completed her pre-med studies, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry from the Univ. of Illinois and received her MT (ASCP) from Northwestern University in 1951. While at the Univ. of Ill., she met Frank Joseph Loeffler, Jr. who she married in 1952. Instead of pursuing a medical career, and like many women of her time, she supported her husband’s ambitions as he worked towards his doctorate in clinical psychology. The couple lived in New Orleans’ French Quarter while Frank completed his residency. They later moved to South Florida; first to Key Biscayne and then to South Miami where they raised their children Terri and Bobby. They resided there until the early 1990s when they moved to Jupiter, Fl.
Shirley’s work was influenced by the artists of the famed 19th century Hudson River School. Her interest in light and its almost magical quality in nature was the focus of many of her paintings that evocatively captured Florida’s wild beauty. An avid canoeist along with her husband, their trips throughout the Everglades’ waterways often inspired her detailed natural scenes.
Shirley exhibited in many prominent galleries and museums via one-woman and group shows. She participated in major Florida art shows including Miami’s Coconut Grove Arts Festival and the Lowe Art Museum’s Beaux Arts Festival, winning numerous prizes and merit awards during her career.
Shirley was also a dedicated volunteer docent for 16 years at the now closed Metropolitan Museum of Art at the Coral Gables Biltmore and was affiliated with arts organizations such as the Bakehouse Art Complex and Miami Beach’s South Florida Art Center. In addition to her volunteer activities, Shirley grew exotic orchids and rescued the two orneriest spider monkeys alive, Pitty Pat and Adam, caring for them in her backyard.
Those that knew her agree that throughout her long life, Shirley never uttered a mean-spirited word or ever raised her voice. She was a ‘gentlewoman’ in the truest sense, with remarkable poise and impeccable manners. She also dressed the part, with her hair pinned up and her outfits beautifully put together. Shirley always endeavored to learn more about the people and the world around her and is lovingly remembered by her daughter Terri Loeffler Abramson of Jupiter, Fla., her granddaughter Taylor Dribnak and husband Matthew, and her great-grandson Jude Dribnak. She was preceded in death by Frank Joseph Loeffler, Jr., her son Robert Frank Loeffler and her sister Billy (Hood) Vaughn and brothers J.V. Hood and Gene Hood. She will be buried close to her family and childhood home in Macedonia, Ill. at the Phillips Cemetery, near Benton, Ill.
For more information or to send online condolences please visit www.AycockFuneralHomeJupiter.com or www.mortonjohnstonfuneralhome.com.