Paul Leonard Shirley, 79, of Winter Garden, Florida, passed away peacefully on Friday July 1, 2022, at home while sleeping. Paul was born Dec. 24, 1942, in his beloved Eufala, Alabama. He was the son of the late Lewey Henry and Willie Mae (Stephens) Shirley and widower Janet (Brown) Shirley.
Paul was the loving husband of 57 years to Jean Ann (Roode) Shirley. Their 58th wedding anniversary would have been July 4, 2022.
After graduating from Tennessee Tech (where he met Jean Ann and attended USMC Officer Candidate School), he worked as a case manager for the Tennessee Welfare Department. Paul then joined Travelers Insurance Company as a claim adjuster. Paul then worked for more than two decades for Foremost Insurance company in Grand Rapids, Michigan, as well as Tampa and Orlando, Florida, and was a well-known and much-loved Allstate insurance agent in Winter Garden for 10 years.
He served his community well, and after he sold his Allstate book of business, he began a second career at 57 and graduated from the Police Academy. Paul then began working for The Florida Department of Corrections at the Lake Correctional Institution. It was during this time that he was injured by a Hepatitis-B vaccination which confined him to a wheelchair for his last 22 years of life.
Paul was an award-winning photographer. In addition to shooting beautiful wedding photographs, more proms and homecoming dances than can be mentioned, as well as team pictures for all types of sports, his images appeared in various publications such as the National Enquirer, The Grand Rapids Press, The Detroit Free Press (he shot countless Detroit Lions football games directly from the field) and many other publications.
In search of perfection and always finding it, Paul spent countless hours in the darkroom, developing his own images. He was able to capture not only famous figures like Dorothy Hamill in the most perfect portrayals of their craft on film, but he also captured everyday moments, scenery and people in a way that could bring tears to your eyes.
Paul lived life to its fullest. He was an avid collector of guns, pipes, cameras and fine pens. Paul was an accomplished drummer and loved music of all kinds. He played the drums for The Tech Troubadours during college, The Viva Tones in Chattanooga, and many musicians and bands, including Tom Jones, Tom T. Hall, Jeanne C. Riley and The Platters.
On many Friday nights after his vaccine injury, he could be found wheeling around in his power chair recording his beloved friends in the Winter Garden Bluegrass community. On YouTube @vivatones66, he owned and managed one of the most successful Bluegrass channels in the country, if not the world.
In addition to his devoted wife, Jean Ann, he is survived by son Stephen Sean Shirley and wife (Suzette Annmarie), of Winter Garden, Florida; daughter Shane Shirley, of Windermere, Florida; five grandchildren (Reece-Callie Smith, Alexandra Jeann Smith, Brittany Ann Shirley, Hayden-Jay Beaumont Smith and Devin Walker Shirley); one great-granddaughter (Lylah Jeann Barton) and many beloved cousins, in-laws, nieces and nephews.
Paul will be missed greatly by all the people whose lives he touched in both big and small ways. His legacy will live on in the music he created, the photographs he left for us to enjoy and his beautiful family.
There will be a celebration of Paul’s life from 1 to 3 p.m. July 31, 2022, at his home. Arrangements provided by Winter Oak Funeral Home & Cremations.