Her Spirit Burns Bright and Strong!
Maudelle Miller Shirek
  • 101 years old
  • Date of birth: Jun 18, 1911
  • Place of birth:
    Jefferson County, Arkansas, United States
  • Date of passing: Apr 11, 2013
  • Place of passing:
    Vallejo, California, United States
My purpose in life really has always been to make this a better world - Maudelle

Maudelle, our beloved sister and aunt and friend, was fierce and loving. She was fierce in her love for us. Her commitment was unwavering. And while she has risen and left behind the limits of her earthly form, she has not left us alone for her Spirit is still with us; still by our side.

Maudelle came West in 1943, right in the middle of what is often called the Great Migration of close to six million Black citizens who left from the South between 1915 and 1970, and moved to Northern and Western cities. Maudelle led our family West in search of sanctuary and opportunity. We settled in Los Angeles, Oakland and Berkeley. Like so many others, she came looking for “a country and a people where social rights are accorded irrespective of color or creed.”  But what set Maudelle apart, and defined her journey, is what she did next. When she did not find all that she sought, she set about the work of creating that country and organizing those people.

California Congresswoman Barbara Lee, best captures Maudelle's spirit and her selfless service to our comunity, and our nation:   

"Maudelle refused to accept arbitrary limitations. That's one of the best things we all respected about her. Maudelle is one of the best examples of how one person can make a difference. She was a fearless and inspirational woman who tirelessly fought to make this world a fair and just place. She spoke for the voiceless and was such a staunch defender of our basic civil rights.

I believe, like many, that Maudelle's legacy of over 70 years of service to Berkeley, the East Bay, the Nation, and the world will inspire many to speak for the voiceless and to stand up for justice, both here in America and around the globe. I will deeply miss her wise counsel, love, and support."


Memorial Tributes
This tribute was added by Terri Bell on 18th June 2015

"Happy Birthday Aunt Maudelle...thinking of you on your day, although I think of you always. #forevermissed"

This tribute was added by Renee Kitchen on 24th April 2015

"My Dearest Aunt Maudelle
It's been 2 years since your passing but you remain forever in my heart and in my thoughts. I have your pictures displayed in our family room. Whenever I walk thru the door I see your pictures smiling back at me.
Love you and miss you.

This tribute was added by Neodros Bridgeforth on 28th September 2014

"There was  no one like her in strength and character. She was ever
kind and understanding whatever our problem was. though she is
gone we still miss her.  Neodros"

This tribute was added by Linda Thomas on 19th June 2014

"Auntie bought me my first book, The First Book About Negroes by Langston Hughes.  It helped me be proud of my heritage  at age  4!  I have read that book  every year of my life, 57 years now.  I remember the black statues and kente cloth she gave me after she visited in Africa.  Then she  would talk about the revolutions in various African countries.  She once asked me to serve Stokely Carmichael, H. Rap Brown,  and Huey P. Newton fried chicken in her dining room! They were discussing strategies about the black revolution and thanking her for opening her house to them.  She asked me to babysit Ron Dellums kids during his very first campaign.  I saw his struggle and auntie' s tireless effort to get him elected.  I saw how she loved helping people eat right. She had such a profound affect on my learning  about my black heritage and helping the poor.  She truly loved helping people in her community."

This tribute was added by Renee Kitchen on 18th June 2014

"Aunt Maudelle
Rememebering that today is your Birthday and thinking about what an awesome birthday celebration you would be having today at 103 yrs old. Wow!!!!.
Love and miss you

This tribute was added by Renee Kitchen on 18th April 2014

"My dearest Aunt Maudelle I can't believe its been a year since you passed. However your spirit remains in my heart and mind. I was so blessed to have you in my life. I'm glad I was able to spend so much quality time with you and to make sure that you were properly cared for and had everything you needed to live a comfortable life. I can just imagine you and your brothers and sisters in heaven having  a real good time. Please give them my love and please give Dad a big hug and kiss for me. I miss him so much also. Love Always, Renee"

This tribute was added by Connie Bridgeforth on 21st June 2013

"My Dear Aunt Maudelle always stood up for anybody who needed a helping hand, she always walked her talk, and there was nothing false or fake about her!
She will forever be my "Shero". She made a gigantic difference during her stay here, and will be forever missed & remembered....."

This tribute was added by Neodros Bridgeforth on 21st June 2013

"6/18/2013 I miss her not being here for her 102nd birthday. But she is not suffering any more. But happy birthday Maudelle  you deserve it
however.  Neodros"

This tribute was added by Evette Hemmons on 18th June 2013

""Not everything that we stand for can be changed, but nothing can be changed until we stand up for something." (unknown)  That's what my Aunt believed and that's how she lived her life.  I am proud to be related to her and to have had her in my life."

This tribute was added by Michael Berkowitz on 15th May 2013

"(Continued from previous) . . . to try get her reinstated.  Instead, he illegally fired me (I was out a year and later the City had to pay me a year's back pay!).  When Boggan refused to reinstate Maudelle, she ran for City Council, at age 72, won overwhelmingly and became the boss of those who had fired her.  She then led a reform of that corrupt administration!"

This tribute was added by Michael Berkowitz on 15th May 2013

"Maudelle had an admirable record of engagement for social change even before her 20 year stint on City Council.  Among her many accomplishments was founding two senior centers.  But the conservative majority of the City Council fired her from managing one of the centers which she had founded.  As SEIU President, I put a picket line around City Hall and (continued in next box!)"

This tribute was added by annie esposito on 13th May 2013

"i remember when some of the antiwar progressives we supported and propelled forward became democrats courting state office.  one tried to dismantle the berkeley citizens action party - our  local politically organized group.  cuz, well, our 2 party system doesnt tolerate any third party.  maudelle went in swinging - and preserved the independence of the local bca. she never ever sold out!"

This tribute was added by Michael Berkowitz on 13th May 2013

"For her 90th Birthday, she led a labor march of over a thousand up Ashby to the Claremont to support the hotel workers union organizing.  We all sat in the street blocking traffic.  The crowd sang her a robust Happy Birthday . . . then she was the first to be arrested.  After she was arrested, the police officers took turns having their picture taken with their celebrity Vice Mayor."

This tribute was added by Jackie Moore on 13th May 2013

"My first memory of Aunt Maudelle is her greeting us when we saw her in  Berkeley and throwing her arms open to hug us one at a time...I felt an instant "love" connection that was sincere and genuine.  Her smile was strong and I was not nervous or scared anymore to be in such a new place because of her."

This tribute was added by Neodros Bridgeforth on 11th May 2013

"She was my first teacher and from 1st grade taught me all the things
that have guided my life. No one could have had a better model in
their life. She stood by me in my darkest hour and my love and respect
for her is forever maintained in my heart."

This tribute was added by Frederick Simpson on 3rd May 2013

"I am so proud of my Aunt - If I am able to accomplish just 1/10 of what she did in service to others in my life - I will have considered that I had a successful life."

This tribute was added by Ronnie Bridgeforth on 1st May 2013

"Those we love don't go away,
They walk beside us every day,
unseen, unheard but always near,
still loved, still missed, and very dear.


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This memorial is administered by:

Diane Benton


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