Shirley Edwards

A longtime registered nurse at Greenwood Leflore Hospital, Shirley Edwards now works in the hospital’s Quality Management Department. A member of Greenwood Little Theatre’s “Ragtime: The Musical” cast, Edwards just wrapped up performing as one of the play’s Harlem women.

Shirley Edwards is a people person.

“I enjoy the people I work with. I just enjoy being with people,” she said. “I enjoy, when we walk to lunch, people saying, ‘Hey, Shirley.’”

Since January, Edwards has worked as a data analyst in Greenwood Leflore Hospital’s Quality Management Department. Before that, she had worked as a registered nurse at the hospital since 1991.

Edwards graduated from Amanda Elzy High School. She worked as a certified nursing assistant and a licensed practical nurse before graduating from St. Joseph School of Nursing in Memphis and becoming a registered nurse.

She was inspired to go into the medical field when she was in high school.

“A nursing school came out there to our school to give a career day, and it impressed me,” she said.

Growing up, Edwards helped the elderly in her family with different medical needs, such as fixing medicine or wrapping a leg.

“I just wanted to help people and felt the need,” she said.

She enjoyed a long career as a registered nurse before going into quality management, which has given her some insight into her former job.“I like learning new things,” she said. “Now, I’m learning why I did the things that I did as far as care when I was on the floor.”

A Greenwood native, Edwards has lived in her hometown most of her life but also resided in Memphis before moving back home in 1990. She and her husband of 40 years, Johnny Edwards, have three children and three grandchildren.

Edwards said she loves being a grandmother.

“When I retire, that’s what I’m going to do — go from house to house until they send me home,” she said.

She said her husband helped make it easier for her when she was working the night shift as a nurse.

“I used to come home, and my bath was ready, my breakfast was ready and everything,” she said.

Edwards said her husband is a talented chef and was the main cook at home. Johnny is the former owner of the Rib Shack, which he opened in Greenwood. Edwards also helped out at the business.

“He’s an excellent cook, especially the ribs,” Edwards said. “I helped out, but he was the main cook on Sundays and every day.”

Edwards, who was involved in theater and operettas in high school, performed in her first Greenwood Little Theatre production, “Dreamgirls,” last year. She just finished her second one on Sunday, portraying one of the Harlem women in “Ragtime: The Musical.”

Her sister-in-law, Christine Birch, had talked her into trying out for “Dreamgirls.”

“My sister-in-law said, ‘Let’s go try out for this, Shirley. This will give us something to do,’” Edwards said. “I said, ‘Nah.’ But then I went, and I met the director, and he was telling us about it, and I just got excited.”

Edwards said she enjoyed being in “Dreamgirls” so much that “when ‘Ragtime’ came up I wanted that same feeling.”

When she read about tryouts for “Ragtime,” she recalled, “I said, ‘Well, let me go try this. I know I am not going to be Sarah and anyone who sings.’”

Initially, she told the director she just wanted to be “part of the crew.” Then, “I ended up being one of the Harlem dancers,” she said. “Then they gave me lines.”

Edwards said “Ragtime” required a lot of hard work but  was a great experience. The best parts of it were “the togetherness and looking forward to seeing the people.”

“Really, I got a lot of history out of that show,” she said. “I learned a lot. Every time I would watch the end part, it looked like they would do it differently. It looked like they were so into it, and we were just trying to get a message out. ... I had chill bumps the last time.”

Edwards said she told her daughter that “Ragtime” might be her last play, but her daughter encouraged her to continue performing.

“So one a year is what I plan to do,” she said. “It will keep my memory.”

Edwards is a member of Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church in the Browning Community, where she serves as secretary and sometimes emcees at programs. As secretary, she keeps up with new memberships and writing letters and invitations, among other duties.

“Right now, we are getting ready for Vacation Bible School, so we are trying to do a program for that and decorations,” she said.

Edwards also enjoys reading and spending time with her husband.

“I love life, and I love living life, and I love people,” she said.

Contact Ruthie Robison at 581-7233 or rrobison@gwcommonwealth.com.

 

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