Shirley Lockwood Larson was one of those kids who loved to sing for guests who visited her parents' home.
That love began a lifelong dedication to the vocal arts. Whether she was taking lessons, giving lessons, organizing her own performing groups or taking part in others, she continued her passion for singing well into her later years, including performances with her second husband, retired WCCO weather forecaster Bud Kraehling.
"It was like having a bird in the house, my twin brother used to say," said Larson's daughter, Valerie Haynes. "She was always singing somewhere and performing. She was like the star of our extended family."
Larson died Aug. 16 at age 91 from cancer at her home in Bloomington.
After they married in 2004, Larson and Kraehling developed a show of their own called "The Weatherman and the Singing Lady," which they performed at many venues, including senior centers and nursing homes.
"They were always very inspiring to older people, that life doesn't stop when you retire," Haynes said.
The two performed together until about a year before Kraehling died in 2015.
"Audiences loved them," said friend Jackie Lotsberg. "Partly because of Bud and his history, but Shirley too had her own following."
Shirley and Bud met shortly after Larson started appearing with the New Fogey Follies, a musical group run by Lotsberg and her husband, Allan. Kraehling was a volunteer who helped work the lights. Both had recently lost their spouses.
"They needed someone and they found each other," said Lotsberg. "It was just adorable."
Lotsberg said Larson could sing everything from popular songs to opera and oratorio. Her "powerful operatic style" came out in some auditions and, "Holy cow, the walls caved in," Lotsberg said.
In addition to music, Larson studied the visual arts and developed her skills as a painter. She also participated in beauty pageants and was crowned Ms. Senior Minnesota in 2004, nearly 40 years after she had won the title of Mrs. South Dakota in 1952. She also was the director of a modeling school when her family lived in Connecticut.
"She loved the footlights," said Haynes.
Born in 1925, she was adopted by a family named Lockwood who raised her in Sioux Falls, S.D., and Topeka, Kan.
She married John Larson in 1947, and the two lived in several parts of the country following John's career in sales before settling in Minnesota in the mid-1970s.
They had three children, including one who suffered brain damage at an early age.
"She had some huge challenges but she surmounted them," said Haynes, "having a handicapped son back at a time when people were not understanding and the community didn't have much in the way of supports."
She was the first president of the South Dakota Association for Retarded Citizens, taught music to brain-damaged children and led one of the nation's first Girl Scout troops for girls with intellectual disabilities, Haynes said.
"When my father died in 1996, my mother thought she would never sing again," Haynes said. But she rebounded and a few years later joined the New Fogey Follies, staying with that group until she developed the act with Kraehling.
Larson is survived by daughter Valerie, son Mark Larson, two grandchildren and one great grandchild. Her other son, Valerie's twin, Vance, died in 2010.
Services have been held.