Mildred Jarvis Shockley, who ran a country store and helped re-establish an Eastern Shore church, died Sunday of complications of gall bladder surgery at Berlin Nursing Home. The Berlin resident was 87.
With her husband, Olin Shockley Sr., and later her son, William Shockley of Berlin, she owned and operated Shockley's Market on Stephen Decatur Highway in Berlin from 1951 until 1991, when she sold it and retired.
The white clapboard store with its "liar's bench" out front was a favorite gathering spot for farmers, workers and others who came to enjoy a sandwich and a soda while relating local happenings.
"For so many years, it was the only store in the Assateague area. It was just a typical little country store with drinks, food, fishing bait and whatever people needed for camping," said her son, the Rev. Olin Shockley Jr. of Berlin.
Mrs. Shockley sat on a stool behind the cash register and greeted customers.
"She treated all of her customers the same, whether they were successful businessmen or migrant workers. If a migrant worker needed credit, he got it. She trusted and cared for them," said Mr. Shockley.
Customers who came to know Shockley's as the last stop before the ocean included Maryland governors, President Richard M. Nixon, Vice President Spiro T. Agnew and members of Congress.
Mrs. Shockley was an outspoken advocate of protecting the Assateague area from development.
"She was always the first to sign petitions, and didn't mince words about speaking up in favor of preserving Assateague. She felt it should be kept open as it is today for visitors and families to go and camp," Mr. Shockley said.
For 59 years, Mrs. Shockley was an active member of Bethany United Methodist Church at Sinepuxent. She and other young couples reopened the church in 1942 after the congregation had died out. The church relocated three miles away about 15 years ago, after outgrowing the old building.
She took on various roles in the church, sitting on several boards, and was a longtime fund-raiser. At the store, she sold thousands of pints of relish made by parishioners, and the proceeds practically paid for the new building, Mr. Shockley said.
Mildred Jarvis was born in Berlin and graduated from Buckingham High School.
In 1932, she married Olin Shockley Sr., who died in 1966.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. tomorrow at Bethany United Methodist Church, 8648 Stephen Decatur Highway in Berlin.
She also is survived by three other sons, James Shockley of Ocean City, Raymond Shockley of Berlin and Richard Shockley of Abingdon; a daughter, Mary Williams of Berlin; a sister, Eunice "Babe" Hudson of Berlin; 14 grandchildren; 27 great-grandchildren; and a great-great-grandson.
Sun staff writer Frederick N. Rasmussen contributed to this article.