Mrs. Geraldine “Gerry” Fay Shippee (Masterson) died peacefully with close friends by her side on February 9th in Turlock, California at the age of 93.
Gerry is survived by her son, Mark Shippee of San Marcos, California; grandchildren: Jill Olson (Alex, Abby), Robin and Frank Torres (Bianca, Bryan, Veronica), Jeff and Stayce Baptista (Keira), Marcie and Mike Harris (Courtney, Brianna), David Baptista, Brandon Shippee, Brian Shippee (Gavin); great-great-grandchildren: Layla and Uriah.
She was preceded in death by her parents Harold & Blanche (Fancher) Masterson, husband Merlin, son Rodney, daughter Sandra, and brother Harold Donald (Alta) Masterson.
Gerry was born on January 11, 1925 in Audubon, Iowa to Harold and Blanche Masterson. A motto that followed Gerry in high school: “Where there’s Gerry, there’s life and action.” She was active as a cheerleader, in Pep Club, a basketball player, in theater, and on the Wheeler staff. Gerry married Merlin J. Shippee, a WWII Navy Veteran from Wisconsin, in 1945. Shortly after their marriage, the couple moved to San Diego as Merlin finished his time with the Navy. Finally, they settled down in Turlock and started their business, Turlock Refrigeration, in 1946. Over a six-year span, the couple welcomed three children into their home, and Gerry and Merlin set about teaching them diligence and self-determination. Gerry’s children remember her as a driven mother who encouraged them to pursue their goals.
Gerry was dedicated to working with her husband at Turlock Refrigeration and maintained a great relationship with many commercial businesses, smaller stores, and dairies in the local area. In 1972, they took a long-term refrigeration contract in Arizona on a 7000-acre farm, which may have sparked Gerry’s love of the area. After Merlin passed away in 1993, Gerry bought a house in Sun City West, AZ. where she enjoyed many good times with her beloved cousins (The Roots) and many other friends and classmates from Audubon, she split her time between both places thereafter. Gerry developed a love for the San Francisco Giants and attended spring training faithfully until she was ninety years old, dressed in as much orange & black as possible and always keeping score for every game and developing long time friendships with famous retired players, some who became pitching scouts.
Beginning in 1947, Gerry began her time with the American Legion Auxiliary (District 12). She was President in 1969-70 and 1996-97 and Unit President (1957-58, 1978-79, 1979-80, 1980-81, 2002-03, 2003-04). Gerry belonged to many other societies and organizations including Soroptimist, Epsilon Sorority, Rex Ish Post 88 (1947-2013), and the VFW.
She was a dedicated individual who loved her community. Gerry will be fondly remembered for her support during the Auxiliary Poppy Program. Gerry probably single-handedly “fluffed” thousands of poppies in her time. The red crepe paper poppies were handmade every year by veterans and then were distributed to Auxiliaries and Legions to be given in return of monetary donations. At eighty-three, Gerry went on a USO trip in 1993 to Frankfurt, Germany and served coffee, meals, and kindness to thousands of soldiers coming and going to Iraq; truly this was one of her proudest achievements She was an active and dedicated member of the First Presbyterian Church since 1948 and served as Deacon for many years. Gerry often volunteered at the Emanuel Hospital gift shop.
Gerry’s hobbies included gardening, cooking, and canning. It was very important to her to share this passion with her daughter, grandchildren, and friends as they often helped in canning over the years, especially her homegrown tomatoes and vegetables. She was proud that the tradition of canning carries on today with her own canning pot and jars. Gerry loved go on adventures. She and Merlin were avid big game hunters and loved to fish. Over her lifetime she took multiple cruises, visited Scotland, England, the Panama Canal, and Hawaii.
The family would like to thank Mark and Kim Pitman and Jim and Anna Baptista for their endearing love, support, and dedication over all these years.
A memorial is scheduled for Saturday, February 17th at 11:00 am, with a reception to follow at First Presbyterian Church, 2619 N. Berkeley Avenue, Turlock. Rev. Wendy Warner will officiate the ceremony. All are welcome to attend and celebrate Gerry’s life. Allen Mortuary of Turlock is handling all final arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Turlock Gospel Mission at 423 S. Broadway, Turlock, Ca 95380.