Dr. Shirley Marie Hunter Grate, affectionately called “Shirley”, transitioned from Earth to Glory on Saturday, December 7, 2019, at Duke Hospital, Durham, NC. She was born to the late Mr. Robert Tillman Special Godfather and Mrs. Floree Marie Keels Hunter on December 22, 1968, in Thomasville, NC. She attended the City of Thomasville Public Schools of Davidson County, graduating from Thomasville Senior High School. She earned her B.A. degree with honors in Education with a Minor in Communication and Media Studies at Salem College, Winston Salem, North Carolina. She was a strong believer in higher education, and after her internship at WFMY Channel, Greensboro, NC, with Mrs. Sandra Hughes, it wasn’t long before she was employed at UNC Greensboro as a Guidance Counselor, where she met her husband, Gerard P. Grate, whom she married on May 20, 1995. She received her Master’s degree in Education from Palm Beach Atlantic University in 1992. She strived to complete her doctoral degree and received a Ph.D. degree from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She had a strong love and passion for children and enjoyed teaching them, as well as being an advocate for those children in need – ensuring each child that she came in contact with had an equal opportunity for education and a healthy start towards learning. Dr. Grate was employed at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, where she helped find missing children, reduce child sexual exploitation, and prevent child victimization. She was so proud of her achievements in education, but her greatest achievement was giving birth to son, Gerard P. Grate, II, whom she called “Boobbles”, the love of her life. She was faithful in attending church at Grace Baptist in Stuart, Florida, where she lived. She was also a devout member of TLC Ministries Inc. Shirley was a true music lover, enjoying many genres of music, including classical, musicals, pop music, and R&B. Her favorite song was “My Soul Has Been Anchored in the Lord”. She was known for her contagious laughter, beautiful smile, classy style, and strong work ethic. She also loved traveling abroad. She was very close to her sister, Lois, and enjoyed spending time with her, talking over the phone. She leaves to cherish her memories, her husband, Gerard Grate Sr., of Stuart, FL; one son, Gerard Grate Jr., also of Stuart, FL; three brothers, Willie Hunter (Jackie Hunter) of Burlington, NC, Clinton Hunter of Thomasville, NC, and Apostle D. L. Hunter of Thomasville, NC; two sisters, Carolyn Hunter of High Point, NC, and Lois Hunter of Thomasville, NC; one maternal aunt, Thelma Justice of Durham, NC; one uncle, James Lewis Keels of New York; and a host of nieces, nephews, and friends.
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