Shelagh Purnell, 77 of West Chester, PA, the former Director of Parks and Recreation for the Borough of West Chester succumbed to dementia on Sat., Feb 22, 2020 at Penn Hospice.
Born in the Boston, Massachusetts area, she graduated from the UMASS, Boston, class of ’64, majoring in Elementary Education.
Moving from Boston to live with her aunt in West Chester, her career began as a 5th grade teacher for West Goshen School District at Paoli Pike School. She was transferred to Glen Acres for 5 years and then to a short assignment at Biddle Street School.
Her career included having 2 children (Kelsey and Hugh III), 5 years as Assistant Director of the Holy Trinity Day School, Manager of the Chester County Hospital Gift Shop, and finally, Assistant and then Director of Parks and Recreation for the Borough of West Chester. She instituted or expanded many of the events and street fairs that West Chester is famous for including Mommy & Me, Super Sunday, Swingin’ Thursday, and Touch A Truck.
Known for her organizational skills and artistic ability, she was an active volunteer. Mrs. Purnell was a member of the West Chester and Barley Sheaf Players in the 1960’s, where she met her husband, Hugh J. Purnell, Jr. She was an active member of the New Century Club and helped the Jaycees with the Miss Pennsylvania Pageant during this time. Shelagh was an active volunteer when her children were in school. She oversaw the Chester County Hospital Fair its last 3 years, having volunteered for all 30 years (volunteering her husband at the same time.) She was active in the Hospital Auxiliary and the Chester County Historical Society. Also active in antique car circles and assisted in the annual West Chester Christmas Parade along with several car shows. She was an active part of the Wessies (1st West Chester Fire Co.) marching unit going to Washington DC and Philadelphia celebrations. She also helped her husband with the hay and grain exhibit at the Goshen Fair all while holding memberships in the VFW, Good Will Fire Co., Knights of Columbus, CCACC, AACA, DVOC, POCI, and OCA.
Shelagh was predeceased by her parents Joseph and Mary Doherty, her brother Herbert and granddaughter Madison Bierling.
Shelagh is survived by her husband of 54 years, Hugh J. Purnell, Jr., her children Kelsey and Hugh III (Jill), grandchildren Hannah, Hailey and Hayden Bierling, Emma and Sara Purnell, and many nieces and nephews.
Relatives and Friends are invited to her Visitation on Wednesday, February 26th from 7-9pm at the DellaVecchia, Reilly, Smith & Boyd Funeral Home, Inc. 410 N. Church St. West Chester, PA 19380, 610-696-1181, www.DellaFH.com and Thursday, February 27th from 10 - 10: 45am; followed by her Funeral Service at 11am.
Interment will be held in Birmingham Lafayette Cemetery, West Chester.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Alzheimer’s Association 399 Market St. Suite 102, Philadelphia, PA 19106 and/or the First West Chester Fire Company P.O. Box 371, West Chester, PA 19381.
To plant a tree in memory of Shelagh Mary Purnell, please visit our tribute store.