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Shirley Lee Bieler (Bangert)

Mother of 10, nurse, devout Catholic, adventurer

Shirley Lee Bieler (Bangert) died peacefully on January 4, 2018. She was 88 years old.

She was born November 10, 1929 in Irving, Kansas to Lena Hager Bieler and Arthur Bieler. 

She was a second lieutenant nurse in the US Air Force from September 1950 to July 1951.

She was most proud of her 10 children—five boys and five girls—and loved them fiercely. She was available any hour of the day or night to listen, her family shared.

Ms. Bieler was a registered nurse at The Claremont Colleges clinic and worked at Pomona Valley Hospital. She received additional nursing education at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and earned certificates in pastoral care, ADD, the aging brain, end-of-life care, holistic nursing, elder care, parish nursing and qigong.

She was ordained by the bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles as a “Lay Mission Sister.” As a sister, she administered to the poor and orphans of Russia, American Samoa and Bolivia.

She lived life to the fullest, never wavering in her desire to explore, her family shared. She owned an 805 BMW, belonged to a BMW motorcycle club, and had a strong desire to buy a Harley Davidson. Her unique style included playing many musical instruments, including guitar, banjo, mandolin, dulcimer, flute and Dobro, among others.

She never let fear stop her from trying new things—she once broke her shoulder snow skiing, but was undeterred and continued to explore outdoor sports. A highlight for her children were her annual camping trips, which included her brood as well as their friends. It was truly crazy and fun, they said.

“She had a huge heart, and was available at any time for you, giving you enormous love and affection,” her family said. “She was a rough diamond on this earth full of perfectly polished stones. She will always be with us, not physically, but in her spirit and golden words of wisdom. How lucky we were to have had her in our life. She loved god and all of us tremendously. She transformed common days.”

She was preceded in death by her daughter, Lee M. Elyasian, in 2012.

Ms. Bieler is survived by her children Mary Magnuson, Tony Bangert, Beth Gribbin, Michael Bangert, Polly Coleman, Matt Bangert, Ann Abbuhl, John (Chip) Bangert and Vince Bangert; 13 grandchildren and two great-granddaughters.

A vigil rosary is scheduled at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, January 26 at Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church, 435 N. Berkeley Ave., Claremont. It will be followed by a Catholic mass, and burial at Oak Park Cemetery, 410 Sycamore Ave., Claremont.