Willie Nelson Shirley
May 15, 2007 - December 26, 2022

Willie Nelson “Willie Possum” Shirley was born on May 15, 2007, in north Alabama to Lacy Juliet and Lucky Dee Romeo (which could possibly explain why he had to kiss any person he was near and his love for air humping elbows) and crossed the rainbow bridge on December 26, 2022.   He is survived by his parents Holly and Jimbo Shirley; human siblings:  Mary Catherine, Forrest, and Jamie: grandparents: Kermit and Deborah, Nan and Earle, Jim and Mary; a nephew and 2 nieces: Henley, Harper, and Kiwi the bulldog; and a special friend Shannon Petty aka his "ShanShan".  Willie was preceded in death by his great grandmother Lenis and his Aunt Sallie Mae George, mutt.  

He was with his God parents on the side of the road in a cardboard box with a sign that said “Maltese Puppies” for sale in front of Target on Highway 280 in Birmingham, Alabama, when he came right toward Holly and Mary Catherine, and they were smitten. Holly sent MC to the ATM while she held on to Willie so no one else would get him.  He was adopted that day and given the name Willie Nelson. 

After a stop at PetSmart for some necessities and a pirate hat, they returned home and announced to Jimbo, "Look!  We got you a pirate hat!!  And guess what?  It came with a dog."  Jimbo wasn't sold immediately and swore Willie would NEVER sleep in the bed with him (which he did for fifteen years).  Willie was Christened in the bathtub later that week with a solo cup.

Willie went to work as a teenager, helping with the family business.  He enjoyed his job at Soho Interiors in Homewood, Alabama where he served as the official greeter and rocking chair salesman until the financial collapse of 2008 that was the cause of the store’s demise.  

Willie donned a cap and gown for Forrest's high school graduation and a Bo Jackson jersey to move him into the dorm at Auburn.

Although distraught, during his brief period of unemployment, Willie quickly found work as a bed tester and greeter at Generation Dog in Homewood with his sister, Mary Catherine.  Willie also enjoyed being a nursery tester and nanny to his nephew, Henley.  

After the Alabama tornadoes, Willie worked in disaster relief with Toomer’s for Tuscaloosa and enjoyed casserole drives and stuffing trucks as well riding shotgun in U-Hauls to destinations all over the country with his mom.  When posts were made on social media to bring something to stuff the truck and meet Willie Nelson, people came from all over to help and have their picture made with “Willie Nelson”.   Once, when the volunteers stopped on their way home from a trip, Willie became probably the first and only Maltese who hit the slots at Wind Creek in Atmore, Alabama.  He and Michelle Gates ate steamed shrimp (that were several hours old) out of a Ziplock back all the way home- neither died, although Holly and Christina promised them it would be their undoing.

Willie was a regular comedian at family Christmas parties, when every year, he donned a Rudolph the red nosed reindeer costume and refused to move because of the hood.  He would freeze in anything with a hood like you were playing freeze tag.  We often wondered if he might have set a world's record for a dog being still the longest amount of time without flinching.  Willie always received extra treats for his live shows as he did not work for free.

During the years from 2011- 2013 Willie traveled all over the country doing land-man work with this dad, Jimbo Shirley.  He dined in Waffle Houses and Cracker Barrels all up and down the I-65 corridor- and his favorite one was outside of Louisville, Kentucky.  He also had a big time at the Makers’ Mark bourbon distillery tour.  

He tromped through snow in Ohio and Pennsylvania and ran up and down the Neshannock River in Volant, Pennsylvania, where he loved watching the Amish in their buggies come to town every Friday to cash their checks at the local bank across the street from the Bed and Breakfast where he was temporarily lodged.  The owners of the BNB weren’t fond of Willie and the feeling was mutual.  The husband was a Mr. Rogers type character who played the clarinet and wore cardigans, and his wife would pop up from behind the half door in the kitchen anytime you went within a 20-foot radius of the door.  She was a human jack in the box who scared the hell out of Willie’s entire family.  

In a mass exodus from the BNB, and knowing Willie couldn’t just stay anywhere, his family went to the Holiday Inn Express- because there aren’t a lot of options in Grove City, Pennsylvania and told them Willie was a service dog for Holly, which he was.  Trying to answer a question from Jimbo, Holly (who suffers mild hearing loss in her left ear from a firecracker incident in 1976) said “You know I can’t hear you when you talk to me on my left side” and from that point on, the staff of the hotel felt at liberty to say anything they wanted in front of Holly thinking that she was completely deaf.   And anytime Willie barked, the staff would motion to Holly that Willie was conveying a message. 

In 2013, Willie moved to Clermont, Florida and was only six miles from Disney World.  He kept the local Starbucks manager on her toes while his mom was writing, and he enjoyed fighting with a huge bushy tailed squirrel who lived in the palm tree outside of his screened porch.  Willie delighted in sitting outside at night and watching the fountain on the lake- that was his happy place.  He became very close friends with a Havanese named Pebbles there and a smoking hot Pomeranian who took his breath away from his screened tree house. 

Willie loved visiting his niece, Kiwi the bulldog, in Gainesville while his sister Jamie was in school there.  He especially loved his trips to Gainesville restaurants with Jamie while she was in grad school.  He lived for the end of the meal when he got tasty leftovers.  

Willie wasn’t crazy about Short Pump, Virginia, and was glad when he permanently moved home to Birmingham, Alabama.  No matter where he was in the world or how far he had traveled, he always knew the street that turned into his neighborhood- whether he’d been in the car for 30 minutes or 10 hours, he knew he was home.  Willie would go crazy when he made the turn at his local post office and cry all the way home with an excitement he only had when he knew he was going to HIS house.

In 2015, Willie’s great-grandmother Lenis was diagnosed with cancer and he became a caregiver.  He spent hours by her side as she recovered from sixteen different procedures she had while staying with him.  He was a loyal friend to her and the sweetest heating pad she could have hoped to have. 

On a last-minute trip to Atlanta and South Georgia in 2017, Willie went to President Jimmy Carter’s church and enjoyed his Sunday School Class. The secret service let him right in the door and he was as quiet as a church mouse until time to come out of his bag for the photo.  His mom got some looks from the church folks, but President Carter asked, “What’s your puppy’s name?”  When Willie’s mom said “Willie Nelson”, President Carter burst out laughing and said he was going to call Willie as soon as he got out of church to tell him about Willie Nelson the Maltese.

Willie worked hard at The Holley House Bed and Breakfast inspecting construction for four years while the house was restored.  Upon its reopening, he did not understand why all of the bacon in the morning was not cooked just for him.  He wasn't fond of the new business model that involved feeding strangers our bacon.  He was thankful to be kidnapped several times by his sister Mary Catherine for snuggles which was always a relief from manual labor.  There are a lot of tiny steps for a guy to make in a 14-bedroom house!  He spent a million hours rocking in his grandmother Deborah's lap and stole her beanbag pillow so many times, she finally just gave it to him.  

Willie was a big gift giver- being that his only currency was his turds, whenever someone he loved left for a few hours, he would find his way to their room and leave a gift they would find upon their return.  It didn’t matter if he had just pooped in the yard, he would always find a gift in there somewhere.  He was a thoughtful guy that way.

Willie’s breath was not delightful- no matter how many times he’d eaten a Merrick toothbrush that week, but his kisses were sweet, and he was always full of love.  He loved to snuggle, and he loved big breasted women.

He traveled from the plains of Texas to the sugar canes near Miami, up the I-95 corridor and over to the Great Lakes.  He was an adventurer, a lover of classic country music, Bob Dylan, Funk, Motown classics, and classic rock and was the best road trip companion a person could ever hope to have and the best friend anyone has ever known. He loved a good bath, having his ears cleaned out with q-tips, getting his hair dried with the hair dryer, and new clothes.  He hated vacuum cleaners, mops, the sound of the UPS truck, and mean people. He will be missed greatly, and his memory will live on in each of us. 

Willie Nelson Shirley was cremated and will be interred with his parents upon their death at the Blackwater Cemetery in Bradley, Alabama. 

Proudly designed by Mlekoshi playground