Shirley Hursey Sturm joined her husband Bill on Sept. 18. She was 87 years old and a cherished wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, friend, educator, and larger than life personality. Shirley passed peacefully after a progressive decline from Alzheimer’s.
In earlier times, Shirley was happiest in animated conversations with family and friends, exploring trails and national parks with her bicycles or kayaks, traveling the world, and standing front and center on the stage that made up her life, and our collective lives, as she shared new adventures, met new people and explored other cultures. She said to many, “I never stop, always look forward, and never look back.” True to her spirit, she was a COVID-19 survivor. She was a one of a kind woman, and an inspiration to many. In later times, she loved being with her family, talking about all her adventures, and taking care of her Scottish Terrier, Ace.
Shirley played basketball for Slidell High School, received a bachelor of science in zoology from Southeastern Louisiana University, a master of science in physiology from Louisiana State University, and achieved 52 pre-doctoral hours from Oklahoma University School of Medicine, while conducting research sponsored by the National Institute of Health and the State of Oklahoma.
It was at OU that Shirley met Bill, and forever changed his life with her adventures. A quiet, unassuming engineer, Bill was her rock and most adoring cheerleader, until his passing in 2012. Shirley a scientist and Bill an engineer, they logically supported each other’s careers; his with NASA and hers, ultimately with the Central Intelligence Agency.
Dedicated to truth, Shirley’s expertise in physiology led her to the forensic detection of deception. She was a past president and life member of the American Polygraph Association. She previously served as an associate director of the Criminal Justice Center at the University of Houston, a research officer and director of the Central Intelligence Agency Polygraph School and chief of curriculum review for the Department of Defense Polygraph Institute. She was an international consultant to polygraph training institutions and an expert witness in the states of New York, Massachusetts and Texas, as well as the federal court system. Selected by the Federal Court of Special Claims, Office of the Special Masters, she provided requirements and guidance for a federally mandated investigative body within the Texas Department of Corrections, to address prison reform. During her career, she provided mentoring and education to thousands of law enforcement, private and government polygraph examiners and investigators.
Shirley was born March 6, 1933, in Slidell, Louisiana, to the late Antoinette Louise Agnes Winters and Leonard Hursey. She is survived by her children, Patricia Mifflin (Milton), Susan Pimentel (Christian) and Erik Sturm (Diana); her grandchildren, Amanda Reed (Kade), Miles Mifflin (Tabitha), Melinda Payne, Courtney Payne, and Jennifer Junaitis (Dallas); great-grandchildren, Lucas, Remy, Hannah, and Zachary. She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband of over 50 years, William Sturm; her twin brother, Sheldon Hursey; her brother, Leonard Hursey; her brother, Sidney A. Hursey; and sister, Connie Alexander.
Shirley was a woman of great intellect and cast an indelible mark on all she touched. The light in this world has grown dimmer, but as Bill once said, “When someone you love becomes a memory, their memory becomes a treasure.” We are left with that treasure and the thought that in the early hours of Sept. 18, Bill said “What took you so long, Love?” and she replied, “I’ve been so busy, Bill.”
Arrangements are under the direction of Pace-Stancil Funeral Home in Dayton. No services are scheduled at this time.