Official Obituary of

Shirley Ellis

February 3, 1937 ~ March 21, 2024 (age 87) 87 Years Old

Shirley Ellis Obituary

Shirley M. Ellis, 87, of Davenport, IA, passed away Thursday, March 21, 2024, at Hope Creek Nursing, East Moline, surrounded by family. 

A visitation will be held Thursday, March 28, 2024, from 9 to 11:00 am at Second Baptist Church, 919 6th Ave, Rock Island, IL 61201 with the funeral to immediately follow. Per the family’s wishes, cremation will follow the service.

Born on February 3, 1937, in Rock Island, IL, Shirley was the cherished daughter of Edward and Mauren (Anson) Houston. 

A trailblazer in her own right, Shirley was the first African American telephone operator in the Quad Cities, breaking barriers and paving the way. Shirley's love for her family knew no bounds and ultimately led her to depart from the Quad Cities, to spend cherished moments with her grandchildren in Atlanta. She adored fast cars, thrills of travel, new experiences and places to explore. Her active lifestyle mirrored her vibrant spirit, and she approached each day with enthusiasm and joy.

Shirley was a pillar of strength and support, her confidence evident in every stride with her shoulders back, fashion-forward and always God-fearing. She leaves behind a legacy of love and memories cherished by: children Michael (spouse-Kimberly), Terrance, and David (spouse- Susanna) Toliver; grandchildren: Christopher, Kayla (spouse- Keran), Kyle and Cameron Toliver (children of Michael and Bonita Toliver), Savannah Toliver (child of David and Susanna Toliver); sibling: Patricia Bohanan; and sister-in-law: Sally Houston.

She is preceded in death by her late husband Tommy Lindsey and Eddie Toliver, her parents Ed and Mauren Houston, and siblings Lyle, Jean (Foye), James and Diania Houston.

In this time of grieving, the family finds solace in shared memories of Shirley's life. Condolences and messages of support may be shared with the family online at

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March 28, 2024

9:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Second Baptist Church
919 6th Avenue
Rock Island, IL 61201

Funeral Service
March 28, 2024

11:00 AM
Second Baptist Church
919 6th Avenue
Rock Island, IL 61201