Published: January 10, 2012
Longtime antiques dealer Shirley (Speaker) Chambers, 86, died at Lowell General Hospital on January 7. She was born on August 27, 1925, the daughter of Dora (Sexton) and Frederick Speaker and was the wife of the late Edward F. Chambers, who died in 1998.
She grew up in Falls Church Va., and Washington, D.C. In her earlier life, she worked as an editor for the United Nations, but later enjoyed being an antiques dealer for most of her life. She was married in 1964 and made her home on Main Street in Westford for more than 40 years.
“When I first met Shirley Chambers over 40 years ago, I was just a beginner, still stripping the red paint off of the blanket chests and she was a great Americana dealer,” said Nan Gurley, now a veteran dealer and show promoter, in whose shows Chambers was a regular exhibitor.
“I learned what it was all about through visiting her home in Westford, which was full of wonderful painted country things,” Gurley continued. “I loved what I saw there and wanted to be like her. I often tell people that I have I have known Shirley so long that I remember changing Joshua’s diaper on her kitchen table.”
“Shirley was a great one; she was a wildly funky individual, and a great dealer. We will all miss her,” Gurley said.
Shirley loved reading, dancing, teaching line dancing and music. She had an interest in gems and minerals and professional miniatures. She was also an editor of a community newsletter in Westford.
Survivors include nephews Ross Hammond of Reidsville, N.C., and Neil Hammond of Westerly, R.I., and five great-nieces and nephews; her children, Edward F. Chamber III of Rockledge, Fla., Stephen Chambers of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Karen Kennett of Littleton, Colo., Deborah Chambers of McNeal, Ariz., and Candace Chambers of Asheville, N.C., four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her sister, Audrey Hammond.
She also leaves behind Pat Stauble, her longtime partner in the antique business whom she cherished like a sister.
A private burial will be held at a later date. Memorial contributions may be made to Fisher House Boston, PO Box 230, South Walpole MA 02071.
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