Paula Shirley, the longtime assistant to the director of Residence Life at Missouri Southern, passed away on Monday, Aug. 2.

Shirley joined the Lion family after taking the position in 2001.

“Her role included overseeing student mail and the Mayes Student Life Center office, assisting Residence Life with various tasks and serving students,” said Josh Doak, director of Residence Life. “She was a second mother to many students and was always willing to listen to student concerns and offer help.

Samantha Quackenbush, the university’s director of student conduct, remembers meeting Shirley on her first day as a Missouri Southern student in 2009.

“I was living in the residence halls and she was sorting packages and mail in the Student Life Center,” she said. “Paula grabbed my mail for me and said, ‘Welcome to Missouri Southern.’ I knew I had made the right decision to go here.”

Later, as a resident assistant and after graduation as a resident director, Quackenbush said she continued getting to know Shirley and appreciate her passion for making students feel at home at MSSU.

“I watched her mentor a new era of students and RAs while supporting me and my colleagues in Residence Life,” Quackenbush said. “Since her passing, I’ve heard from so many former students and RAs, each one of them sharing stories of how she was always so warm and welcoming to them.”

Both Doak and Quackenbush remembered Shirley as a proud Lion whose presence will be sorely missed on campus.

“She cherished her interactions with students and was a positive individual to all who came into our office,” said Doak.

“Missouri Southern lost a great Lion who had so much pride in her students, her job and her community,” Quackenbush said.

Details on a celebration of life will be shared at a later time. Her obituary can be read here.