Shirley Grapek Haight

May 5, 1922 - September 3, 2023

Shirley Grapek Haight passed away September 3, 2023 of natural causes at age 101. Born in 1922 she spent a life living in many places, most recently on Bainbridge Island, Washington. Raised by two medical doctors, Charles and Erma Grapek, she was born in Needham, Massachusetts. She attended Radcliffe College in the 1940s, earning a bachelor’s degree in Government studies there. During World War II she worked for the War Department (later renamed the Department of Defense) in Washington, DC. In 1946 she met her husband to be, Gilbert Pierce Haight (1922 to 2015), who was then studying as a post doc in chemistry at Princeton University. They were married in 1946 in Boston. During the following year Mrs. Haight completed a master’s degree in political science at Ohio State University. Her thesis was about bringing US-style federalism to Europe, a precursor of the European Union to come.

Shirley and Gil were able to live in many places around the United States as Gil worked his way through academia as a chemistry professor. In 1946 she was among the first wives to be included with Rhodes Scholars, which her husband Gil was awarded. Her first child Jennifer was the first Rhodes Scholar baby born. Sabbaticals also gave them the opportunity to live overseas in England, Denmark, Australia, and Malaysia as he did research and studies abroad. Together they also lived in Honolulu, HI, Seattle, WA, Chevy Chase, MD, Swarthmore, PA, College Station, TX, Urbana, IL, and La Jolla, CA.

Shirley had a strong interest in art. During the war she drew portraits of World War II soldiers at a Washington, DC hospital. She partook in the performing arts, acting in many community theaters where she lived.

She remained active in local politics throughout her life, working for community activities and especially with the League of Women Voters. While living in Urbana, Illinois in the 1970s, she ran for County Clerk (“Get it straight with Haight” was her slogan.) She received a second Masters in Public Administration during this time as well. While retired to Bainbridge Island, Washington, Shirley served as President of the Kitsap League of Women Voters.

She birthed six children, Jennifer Lea, Loisanne Fox (“Sandy”), Charlene Ellen (“Sherry”), Charles Pierce (“Chad”), Stephanie Louise, and Christopher Warren. She has four surviving children. She is also survived by seven grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

An unmistakably optimistic person, Shirley’s positivity had a wonderful effect on those who knew her and her family. Shirley and Gil spent their last years since 1989 on Bainbridge Island and in Seattle.