Shirley Dunn

Obituary of Shirley W. Dunn



Shirley Wiltse Dunn, age 93, of East Greenbush, New York, died peacefully on Monday, April 25, 2022.

Born in Tannersville, New York, Mrs. Dunn was the daughter of James C. and Leah Showers Wiltse, both of whom predeceased her.  She also was predeceased by her brother, James C. Wiltse Jr, in 2017 and by a grandson, Matthew Russell, in 2018.

Shirley graduated from Tannersville Central School in 1946, and from the New York State College for Teachers in Albany, in 1950.  The holder of masters degrees in English and History from the College for Teachers (now SUNYA), Shirley worked as a teacher, museum interpreter, editor, and historic preservationist.  She spoke frequently to historical groups and was recognized by the New Netherland Project for her contributions to Dutch studies.  Author of several articles on Dutch history, she was also honored by the Holland Society of New York as a Fellow for her Dutch studies.

After graduation from the College for Teachers, Shirley taught four years in Delmar, New York, and Baltimore, Maryland, while her husband pursued his education.  She then became a devoted, fantastic mother and homemaker, raising four children.  After her children entered  college, she returned to the labor market, teaching briefly in BOCES, and later working for the State office of  Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, until her retirement in 1992.

In 1965, she and her family lived in Venezuela where her husband worked for the United Nations as a budget management advisor to the Venezuelan government.

Shirley was a  founding member of the Esquatak Historical Society in Schodack and East Greenbush.  She also was a founder of the Dutch Barn Preservation Society and was its first president.  An active and dogged researcher, she honed those skills as a teacher, author, historic preservation consultant, and as Assistant Site Manager at Fort Crailo Historic Site in Rensselaer.  These interests later led to writing or editing seven books, including three histories related to the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican Nation.  These well-respected studies have been recognized as significant works on the history of that group and for which the president of the Mohican Nation bestowed a tribal award which recognized her support and contributions.

Other books included Dutch Architecture near Albany (with co-author Allison Bennett), a childrens’ book on the Mohicans, and a popular book of her mother’s stories of places and events in the Tannersville area of the Catskill Mountains titled Pioneer Days in the Catskill High Peaks.  Her last book, on Fort Crailo and the Van Rensselaer families who lived there, was published in 2016.

Shirley enjoyed her family, her pets, gardening, music, painting, and walks in nature. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her.

Shirley is survived by her husband of 72 years, Gerald E. Dunn.  She also is survived by her brother Oscar (Patricia) Wiltse of Flowery Branch, Georgia; and by her children Geoffrey O. (Laura) Dunn, of East Greenbush, New York; Janet M. (Patrick) Russell, of Boulder Creek, California; James E. (June) Dunn, of Trumansburg, New York; and Barbara E. (John) Oswalt, of Herndon, Virginia, eight grandchildren, two great-granddaughters, and five nieces and nephews.

    Relatives and friends may call on Friday from 4:00 – 7:00 pm at the Wm. J. Rockefeller Funeral Home, 165 Columbia Turnpike, in Rensselaer.

    The Funeral Service will be held Saturday at 11:00 am at the Wm, J. Rockefeller Funeral Home.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Shirley’s name to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National  Audubon Society, Doctors Without Borders, The Nature Conservancy, or to Amnesty International.


Audubon Society


Nature Conservancy




Amnesty International


Doctors without Borders


Rensselaer Land Trust





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Calling Hours

4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Friday, April 29, 2022
Wm. J. Rockefeller Funeral Home Inc.
165 Columbia Tpk
Rensselaer, New York, United States
Calling Hours

Funeral Service

11:00 am
Saturday, April 30, 2022
Wm. J. Rockefeller Funeral Home, Inc.
165 Columbia Turnpike
Rensselaer, New York, United States
Funeral Service
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