Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Shirley Crane

Books and her husband were the loves of Shirley Crane's life

ST. PETERSBURG — Several weeks ago, Shirley Crane decided she needed to organize her books. The historical fiction and thrillers she loved packed the shelves of her Old Northeast home, about 18 feet long and seven shelves high.

She inventoried about 800 titles as a librarian might, grouping them by author and subject.

The books were her way of connecting with people, of drawing out strangers at a party or recharging her intellectual batteries.

But the person she knew best — her husband — didn't share her appetite for fiction.

She met Don Crane at meetings of the Southwest Water Management District, where he served on the board and she was the executive secretary.

"She was the glow in the office," said Crane, 76, a former state legislator (1970-1974) who also had an insurance agency.

She was divorced. Crane's first wife, Bevelle, had died while piloting a small plane.

Before Don and Shirley Crane married in 1986, a minister administered a Myers-Briggs personality test and announced that they were diametrical opposites.

In some ways it was true. She didn't care much for politics any more than he wanted to read every book John Grisham wrote.

"We knew each other's limits," her husband said.

Once, the couple were returning from an antique car show, towing a 1930 Rolls-Royce he had been restoring for 30 years. Mrs. Crane swerved in traffic, causing the Rolls to tip over.

The wreck destroyed the Rolls but did not even dent the relationship.

"I doubt anybody would believe this, but we never had an argument," her husband said.

After Swiftmud, Mrs. Crane worked for 17 years assisting Carl Kuttler, president of St. Petersburg College. She retired in 2004, but continued to work part time for the college.

She let Labrador retrievers stay at her house until they were ready to become guide dogs, and was active in First Presbyterian Church.

Born Shirley Scott in Greenville, S.C., she attended Bryan College in Dayton, Tenn., and got an associate's degree from the University of South Florida.

On Sept. 15, her husband returned from a Rays game with his grandson and found his wife on the bedroom floor. Doctors told him she had suffered a massive stroke. Mrs. Crane died Sept. 16 at Bayfront Medical Center. She was 75.

Her husband has always prized an oil painting of his wife that caught the light from her eyes and smile. It hung in his office for years. Out of modesty, she would not allow him to hang it in the dining room, which opens into the living room, as he had wanted.

"But it's there now," he said.

Andrew Meacham can be reached at (727) 892-2248 or


Shirley Scott Crane

Born: Nov. 28, 1934.

Died: Sept. 16, 2010.

Survivors: Husband Donald Crane Jr.; sons Steve Nissen, Kenny Nissen and his wife, Rhonda, Kevin Nissen and his wife, Lori; stepsons Don Crane III and his wife, Selina, Bragg Crane and his wife, Tina; sister Eloise Steenberg; eight grandchildren; three stepgrandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

Service: 1 p.m. Monday, First Presbyterian Church, 701 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg.

Books and her husband were the loves of Shirley Crane's life 09/22/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 22, 2010 10:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Two Kissimmee police officers shot to death


    KISSIMMEE — Two police officers were shot dead in Kissimmee Friday night, Orange County mayor Teresa Jacobs said.

    Two police officers have been shot and killed in Kissimmee, authorities say. The shooting happened in the area of Palmway and Cypress around 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017. Photo courtesy of
  2. Longest home run at Trop and Erasmo Ramirez's pitching doom Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem was, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Seattle Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso (10) scores on the double by Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  3. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming


    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  4. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day


    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    Jameis Winston, left, tries to hang on to the ball as Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler tries to strip it from him.
  5. Despite pain, woman in court faces ex-boyfriend who lit her on fire



    Sheron Pasco sat in the wheelchair as her mother pushed it toward the man in the orange jail suit.

    Sheron Pasco, 39, relies on the help of her mother, Tranda Webb, 62, as she recovers from the burns covering her body.