Country and gospel music legend Pat Boone has spoken out about his grief after losing his wife, Shirley Boone, who died in January 2019. The singer-songwriter told Closer Weekly that life under quarantine has made him miss her presence even more.
“I’m living here alone with a housekeeper and my dog, a little cocker spaniel,” said Boone. “I’m doing fine. I mean, gosh, I miss her.”
The two married in 1953 at the young age of 19 and stayed together for 65 years. As Boone, who is a vocal Christian, told People after Shirley’s death, “She’s changed her address is all and moved to a different mansion that I expect to join her in one day.”
The couple raised four daughters, Debby, Linda, Cherry, and Laurey, who went on to have many children and grandchildren of their own. As for the secret to their successful marriage and family life, Boone told People:
“We didn’t have the perfect marriage, but it helps to marry a magnificent woman. You make your commitments to God and each other, and in troubled times, you hang on to the commitment to God, and to your kids. You see the problems through and you find you’re stronger because of it.”
Boone herself came from country royalty, the daughter of Red Foley, a multi-million-album-selling artist known as “Mr. Country” in the 1940s and 1950s. When Pat and Shirley met at age 16, they immediately fell in love. Boone recalled asking Shirley’s father before marrying her after learning they were planning on moving away.
“He tearfully asked me one thing, ‘Will you take care of my girl?’ and I said I would,” Pat recalled. “And the tears rolled into his coffee because he knew he was moving and planned to take her with him, but he was willing to leave her with me.”
While Pat was becoming a country star in his own right and helping Elvis Presley get his start, Shirley was busy raising their kids. “The thing that would most fulfill her was to be a good wife, and mother, and grandmother and to create happy homes,” Boone explained.
Shirley also created Mercy Corps, a hunger-relief organization that is one of the world’s largest and most successful. In addition to helping people in developing countries feed their families, the organization provides assistance to refugees and displaced people.
“[Mercy Corps] continues to grow, and all of this started from her tears and her conviction that we could do something,” Pat told People after Shirley’s death. “She was always ready to interrupt what she was doing and help somebody else.”
When Shirley passed away due to vasculitis in 2019, she left behind an impressive philanthropic legacy as well as a loving family. In addition to their four daughters, the Boones were also proud of 16 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
What helped Pat Boone find peace after Shirley’s passing was his faith that he would see her again one day. “We lived a wonderful, blessed life together for 65 years. I’ve parted with my better half for a little while,” Pat said, “but we don’t die, we just move on to another place, and today was moving day.”
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