Former Omaha school board member Shirley Tyree felt strongly about the need for giving children a good education, but she was equally adamant that students show respect.
Tyree served 20 years on the Omaha Public Schools board, including a stint as its vice president. She also worked with young people as a paraprofessional with OPS.
Tyree, 82, died Jan. 12 in home hospice care, surrounded by family, after a 2½-year battle with blood cancer. A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Morning Star Baptist Church, 2019 Burdette St., where Tyree worshipped for 77 years.
For years, former students have been telling her daughter, Kathy Tyree, about her mother’s impact on them.
“They’ve been telling me, ‘No one could handle us like Miss Tyree could,’” Kathy Tyree said Monday. “But they let me know that she did it with love and respect. She could give you a look and you knew that you better straighten up and straighten up quick.”
After graduating from Tech High in 1956, Shirley Tyree worked at Creighton University Medical Center and then Western Electric. She later retired as a graphic design manager for Northwestern Bell.
“But she could only stay home for so long,” her daughter said. She then worked part time at Girls Inc. and the Bellevue Housing Authority before becoming a paraprofessional with OPS. By then, her daughter said, she had been elected to the school board.
Nancy Huston, who served on the board with Tyree, said the students and teachers couldn’t have had a better advocate. Tyree, she said, was “a pure pleasure” to work alongside.
“She knew the city and she knew the school system,” Huston said. “She was always pleasant and always had a smile.”
Tyree also served with numerous other organizations, including the Selective Service Board and as a trustee for her church. In her spare time, she enjoyed singing and acting in community theater, with appearances at the Omaha Playhouse, the Dundee Dinner Theater and the Center Stage.
Her fondest times, however, were spent doting on her 17 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren.
“Everyone who knew her knew how much she adored her grandchildren, and they adored their grandmother,” Kathy Tyree said. “She was always loving, caring and fair with all of us.”
In addition to her daughter, Tyree is survived sons Darwin Seals of Omaha, Curtis Tyree of Las Vegas and D.J. Tyree of Omaha; stepdaughter Antoinette Russ of Omaha; and sister Vyree Russell of Omaha.