Shirley Ann Newhook (Telford)

April 3, 2021

Obituary

Passed away peacefully on April 3, 2021 at St. Luke’s Home in St. John’s.

Born in Woodstock, Ontario, Shirley grew up in Brooklyn, New York. She became a successful model and sales rep for a Manhattan fashion company before moving to St. John’s with her husband and young family in 1961. The adjustments that went with that change of scene and pace became the stuff of family lore, but she did not miss the big city; she loved having a house with a yard and watching her children play and roam safely with their friends.

Shirley quickly plugged into community life while raising her family: first with community organizations such as the Jaycettes and musical groups such as the Roland Whitten Singers; and later in media, starting with her “Over the Back Fence” column on the ‘women’s page’ of the St. John’s Daily News in the early 1970s.

She was best known as the host of Coffee Break and other shows and specials on CBC Television during the 1970s and 1980s. She loved her work, booking and interviewing hundreds of people, from community figures to medical and legal experts, to celebrities such as Victor Borge (a personal favorite), Margot Fonteyn, Vera Lynn, and the then newly married Margaret Trudeau. Coffee Break’s weekly “Ask the Doctor” segment often took on topics some considered out of bounds at the time, particularly around women’s health. Well into the 2000s, Shirley ran into people who were still using their souvenir coffee mugs from appearances on her show. In later years she went back to her newspaper roots with a weekly column in the Telegram.

Throughout her life, Shirley juggled a wide range of interests and commitments. Her first response to requests for her time was, “Hang on, let me get my appointment book.” She worked or volunteered for scores of committees, events, and boards over the years. These included the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre, Pippy Park, the Rennie’s River Foundation/Fluvarium, VOWR, WHIN Publications, the Salvation Army, the Public Legal Information Association of Newfoundland, the Downtown Development Association, Welcome Wagon, Big Brothers, St. John’s Day Committee, the Y, the Status of Women Council, the College of Trades (now College of the North Atlantic), and NTA Music Council Concerts.

Shirley was one of the first women invited to join the St. John’s Rotary Club. Rotary’s Paul Harris Fellowship and the 1997 YWCA Women of Distinction were among her many awards.

But the bulging appointment diary that tracked Shirley’s long workdays never got in the way of family commitments, be they weddings, elaborate themed birthday cakes, graduation ceremonies, or after-school pickups. She taught two generations to love the kitchen, sleepovers, and group hugs. Her family treasures their memories of these and so much more.

Shirley is survived by daughters Susan and Tracey (Lorne), son Chris (Anne Marie), grandchildren Matthew, Alexandra, Sydney, William and Amelia, and extended family in St. John’s, Ontario and the United States. Close personal friends and neighbours include her stalwart best friends Lois Hicks and Sophie Firme. She was predeceased by her mother Audrey Telford, younger brother USAF Col. William Telford, and former husband Warren.

The family is grateful to the loving and dedicated staff and management at St. Luke’s Community Living, who helped make Shirley’s two-year stay happy and healthy. Special thanks go to staff in Pleasant View Terrace, and to Nicole, Glenn and Herb in the Inglewood unit for making her last day a peaceful one.

Plans for a church service and celebration of life will be announced soon. In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes donations to St. Luke’s Community Living or the Alzheimer Society of Newfoundland and Labrador.

 

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My deepest condolences to the loved ones left behind with the loss of Shirley. Like so many others in the 70’s and 80’s, I had the privilege to sit with her and chat on the set of Coffee Break … it was interview, but with Shirley it always felt like a relaxing chat at her place. At the time I was official spokesperson for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Newfoundland and Labrador. Her dignity, warmth and respect meant a great deal to me, and while she never avoided asking some tough questions, she did it with such kindness and professionalism! I, too, have my treasured Coffee Break mug from about 1979, a lasting token of special times spent conversing with a special lady. She will truly be missed. May warm memories help comfort Sue, Chris and Tracey during this time of loss and grief.

Thanks so much to everyone for your thoughts and memories of Mom – it’s wonderful, and cheering, to see them…

Sue, Chris & Tracey

So sorry to hear of your mom’s passing. I have such wonderful memories of working with Shirley. She brightened every situation, and was always present for those in her company. Your mom will be missed.

Sue and family

Sue and family
So sorry for the loss of your Mom. Shirley was such an elegant lady who always had time for everyone. Of her many talents that was the one that stood out most. Peace and Comfort to you and yours at this time.

Tracy, Lorne and family,

We were sorry to hear of your mothers recent passing. Our thoughts are with you at this difficult time.

Tracy, Lorne, Alex, Sydney , Matthew and family,
We are so sorry to hear about the passing of your mother (grandmother). While I recall her as a public figure I also remember the treats she used to make for the kids and their birthday parties etc!

We hope your memories of her will help to heal the pain of your loss in time.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you.

Rhonda, Rob, Kathleen Ryan and John

Sue,
Sorry to learn of your mother’s passing. Although I only remember meeting her once, it is very easy to learn she lived a very interesting and contributing life that leaves many pleasant memories.. Please accept our sincere condolences.
Randy and Joan Coffin

Sue and family,
I am so sorry to hear that Shirley is gone. I grew up seeing her on TV so I was delighted to get a chance to work with her. She’d come in to read the late-night news at CBC TV during my first weeks there in the summer of 1992. It wasn’t a glamourous gig but Shirley did it with her usual professionalism and grace, which epitomizes the way she worked. She was so kind and supportive to me and many others and will be remembered fondly. Thinking of you all as you grieve the loss of a lovely woman. Take care, Beth

Chris, Anne, William & Amelia
Sincere condolences to the family of Shirley Newhook.
May she rest in peace.

Heartfelt condolences to the family of Shirley Newhook. I was privileged to be interviewed by her three times, so I have three of her famous Coffee Break mugs, the first one made of real pottery! I treasure them. Shirley was, indeed, a very caring, intelligent woman who left her mark in our community and in our hearts. I share your sense of loss.

Susan & Family,
Sincere condolences to you. I first met Shirley in the mid 1960s, when we sang with the Roland Whitten Singers (along with Warren). And we had many interactions since that time through entertainment, CBC and the St. John’s Rotary Club.. She even once talked me into being a model at a fashion show. I always enjoyed her company and her calming, elegant presence..
She did much good in the community and for individuals who knew her. Best wishes to you and may you be blessed by her memory.
Dennis

Sue and Family

I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. When we were friends and school mates I remember being star-struck every time I met your mother. She had an easy elegance that was obvious even to a ten year old.

My Sincere condolences,
Hans

Susan and Family,

John and I had many good times with Shirley through the CBC and Amateur Theatre. She was a beautiful lady and will be missed . My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

I was a guest on her program when I worked with Consumer Affairs, and knew her to be a very friendly and lovely woman. My deepest condolences to her family..

I was fortunate to have worked with Shirley at the CBC. Shirley to me, was the height of elegance, grace, intelligence, and she was just stunning in every way. She lit a room with her presence. Shirley made everyone she met feel interesting, and they were to her. Everyone was someone to Shirley. I always loved that about her. My sincere condolences to the family, and to all who were fortunate to have known her.

Shirlely’s family our thoughts and prayer are with you all at this time. Amen Shirley.Thank you for your help back in 1971

To Shirley’s Family. I first met Shirley whilst I was at the Janeway and she with CBC. Our paths crossed on occasions and I wish to echo all the beautiful tributes to your mom. Hold these beautiful words close to your heart and may they help you through this sad and difficult time and beyond. Condolences on your loss. Blessings & Peace. Maude Peach

To Sue and Family
My condolences to your family in the passing of your mother, a household name in St. John’s. Everyone knew Shirley in her adopted community and most thought she was from Newfoundland. Your memories will carry you through the next months.
Take care
Ean and Jane Parsons

Susan, Tracy and Chris

I worked with your mother on several media projects over the years (“What’s Happening” magazine, for one); we became good friends; your parents occasionally spent a weekend with us at North River. Always bright, cheerful and positive, Shirley was a joy to know.

Paul (and Jennifer) Sparkes

To the Newhook (Telford)family, my condolences on Shirley’s passing. I knew Shirley through the many times she interviewed me on CBC radio, as Director of Water Safety with the Canadian Red Cross Society , Newfoundland and Labrador Division and as a fellow Rotarian . She was a very pleasant lady. May her memories be a blessing.

Sue and members of the Newhook family:

First I watched your mother on TV; then I worked with her, briefly, on radio. She was always warm, kind, and gracious. I think one of the keys to her success – personally and professionally – was that she was genuinely interested in people, and people got that.

Condolences on your loss.
Christine Davies

Sue, Chris and Tracy – I feel blessed to have grown up with your Mom a part of my life. She is missed …

Tracy and family.

Our sincere condolences to you and your family after losing your mother. She was a wonderful lady and a friend to many who will miss her dearly.

Tracey, Lorne and family
So sorry to hear about your Mom’s passing.. We hope the many wonderful memories you all cherish will bring you comfort during the difficult days ahead. God bless you all.
Brenda and Dale

Tracey and Lorne, so sorry to hear the sad news about your Mom’s passing. Thinking of you and all your family during this difficult time.

Many condolences to you Susan & to your siblings. You have many wonderful memories to treasure from a very lovely lady. Thoughts & prayers extended to you.
Pam Dowber (Odom)

Sue and family….I can still see Shirley heading down the stairs at CBC clasping a file folder and 2 or 3 Coffee Break mugs for her guests. She set the bar for making guests feel comfortable. Shirley was kind, considerate, and a wonderful person. My condolences to you all.

Dear Tracy ,Susan, Chris and families,
It’s with sad heart but happy memories of dear Shirley I write this note. She was a light in the room. She radiated warmth and kindness and will be missed dearly. God take care of our dear friend and give courage and strength to the family in coping with this loss..
Love..
Renu ,Hira Ahuja and family..

So sorry Sue to hear of your mom’s passing, my husband George Murphy worked with her on Coffee Break.
Irene Murphy

Dear Tracey, Lorne, and family
So sorry to hear of your mom’s passing.
Sending our sincere condolences.
Thelma and Dan Nugent

My condolences to the family. I remember Shirley well when we were neighbours on Kerry Street. My husband Art and I enjoyed our visits to her home. She was such a gracious host.

Tracey, Lorne, Susan, Chris, and families,
Our sincere condolences. We have many fond memories of Shirley in the nearly 40 years she has been part of our extended family. We always looked forward to her engaging conversation and interesting stories when we got together for special occasions. She was truly a special lady.

Sue,
So sorry to read of your Mom’s passing. I knew what a lovely lady she was from our time at CBC. Warmest Sympathy to you and your family.
Gerry Davis

I delivered the Telegram to Mr & Mrs. Newhook when I was about ten years old. I always looked forward to seeing them. They were both so welcoming and friendly at all times. They were such a pleasure and her stunning looks always made me smile. Beautiful lady.

Hello Susan, Tracey, and Chris
I would like to pass along me condolences to you and your families. Growing up on Kerry St. I remember your mother was always on the go, and when she was home, I would see her enjoying doing some gardening. I always wondered what secrets were hiding behind the tall fence that went around your back yard. You mon really added so much to St. John’s. I know you all have wonderful memories of her, that will help you get through the now and the future.

Chris, Tracey, Sue and family,
My condolences to you all on the passing of your mother. She was always kind and caring toward me as a kid when I would visit Chris on Kerry St. I will always remember the times I stayed over for supper and your mother always seemed to have cherry cheesecake on hand because she knew that I loved it. She ended up giving my mother the recipe. After that, we ate cherry cheese cake at my house on every special occasion for the next 20 years. My thoughts are with you. All the best.

To Susan and family
I was saddened to hear of Shirley’s passing. She was a dear friend and lovely person..
The community will miss her.
Avrum Richler

I

Susan,

So sad to hear about the loss of your Mom.
I remember her as a very kind and considerate person.
I recall one day I was double riding on Bert’s (from Berteau Ave) bike and we slid on some sand then ended up sprawled across the street curb. As we were licking our wounds walking the bike back home your Mother came running out the front door of your house with such a look of alarm on her face that I thought for sure someone had been murdered!
But much to our relief she just wanted to know if we were alright and what she could do to help us.
God bless her.

Randy
(Childhood friend & wanna be boyfriend but your mother never would have allowed it! ☺️)

Deepest sympathy to Shirley’s family and friends. I know she will be missed. She was a Rotary friend forever and gave so much to others.
Always a pleasure to speak with and always welcomed new friends to the group. She was one of the original Lancers and will always be fondly remembered as a kind and most caring person.
Rest In Peace, Shirley.
Heather and Bob Pittman

Tracey and family,

Please accept my deepest condolences on the loss of your mother.

Christine

My sincere condolences to the Newhook family on the passing of your mom Shirley. She was an icon as I remember listening to her on Coffee Break. Cherish all your special memories, god bless you all. RIP Shirley.

We have lost a Lady that was amazing, beautiful and an icon of our Province.

To Sue and family my deepest sympathies on the death of your Mother. May you find strength in each other at this difficult time.

Rest In Peace

Jacinta wall

Sincere condolences to the Newhook family. Shirley was an amazing woman who, in her career, worked with passion and sincerity. She contributed greatly to our province and will be missed by all who had the pleasure to know her.

so sorry to hear about shirley passing
she will be miss in nl she have alot of
friends at cbc and my heart goes out
to her family and her friends
RIP

Our sincere condolences to the Newhook family on the passing of their beloved mother Shirley. Our thoughts and prayers are with you in this difficult time. Michael,Sylwia,Lenna,Hannah & Aoife-Rose freeney Galway Ireland.

My sincere condolences Chris sue and Tracey on the passing of your mum may she rest in peace
Sean Shauna jack and Charlie freeney

Sincerely condolences to Sue, Tracey and Chris and their families on the passing of their beautiful mom Shirley. May she rest in peace. Thinking of you all at this sad time .
Helen ,Niall and Thomas Feeney
Galway, Ireland

Susan,Tracey, Chris and families. Please accept my sincere condolences on the passing of your dear mother. She has left you with precious memories to cherish. She was a special lady indeed.

Our heartfelt condolences to Sue and the Newhook family. We’re so sorry for your loss. Sincerely, Patti & Jerry Bannister (Halifax).

So sorry to hear of Shirley’s passing. I fondly recall her show on CBC :Coffee Break”! It was with great joy to have been able to play at the hymn sings at St Luke’s every Monday evening and to see Shirley so enjoying singing the hymns and bringing a measure of peace to her before retiring for the evening. I once talked to her about her interviews on Coffee Break and she replied yes, did I interview you, and I replied NO, I wasn’t that popular, to which she had the biggest chuckle..I shall miss you at the Chapel dear lady. RIP Mel Earle

Sue,
So sorry to hear of your mother’s passing. She was always warm and kind, and one of the classiest ladies I have ever known. My thoughts and prayers are with you at this time. God bless.

Sacred to her memory! to the family my deepest condolences. She made a difference! What more could one ask? What a gift to Newfoundland and she gave back!

Ir was with deep sadness when I heard of the passing of.. Shirley. Shirley and I worked together for many years at CBC and it was always such a pleasure to work on her show “Coffee Break”. She was a wonderful lady.
My deepest condolences to Susan, Tracey, Chris and their families and friends. God Bless.

Susan, Tracy, and Chris. So sorry to hear of your Mom’s passing. Another angel has her wings. I remember her well from Brinton days where I attended with you three. She always took the time to hear what you had to say, even little girls.

My sincerest condolences to all of Shirley’s family and friends. I knew her as such a kind and generous lady who always took time and interest in everyone who spoke to her. A true lady, inside and out!

Tracey ,Lorne and family ..sorry to hear about your mom’s passing ..she will be missed…..thinking of you …❤️Judy and Joe Stratton

Tracey and family,

So sorry to hear of your mother’s passing. Sending my condolences to you and your family. Cherish your memories.

Any encounter I had with Shirley was warm and lovely. I had not seen her for many years but I was sad to read of her passing. The memory of her genuine interest in those she came in contact with and of her respect and appreciation for people reminded me of long ago. Bless her and her life. Condolences to those who loved her.

Sorry to hear,I remember my mom n dad listening to Shrley,thought me lot,s,all the best to her familey.

Sue and Family – So sorry to hear Shirley has passed.. We first met at the Evening Telegram when it was on Duckworth Street. Shirley also organized the free lunch hour concerts at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre. through the seventies and eighties. She was so present in the moment and so warm in spirit. I will always remember her in a bright yellow raincoat in a great St. John’s drizzle. She always had a happy smile.I He joyful spirit will remain in the memory of all who knew her.

Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there. I did not die.

Susan,Tracy , Chris and family,

My thoughts and prayers are with you at this difficult time. I keep good memories of Madame Newhook’s energy and her story telling when we were gardening!

Mes sincères sympathies.

Suzelle Lavallée

Sue and family, I’m sorry to hear Shirley’s gone.
My first memory of her is as a slim whirlwind in a blue raincoat, dashing through the Daily News newsroom to drop off her column.. The last time we actually worked together was on weekend evening TV news sometime in the early 90s. In the interim and since, I ran into her everywhere and always got the latest on your doings before the appointment book swirled her away again.
She always reminded me what fun our job could be.
We’ll all miss her.

We moved to St John’s from Victoria BC in 1982. Shirley was a popular personality on the CBC at that time, and her warmth and genuine interest in the people she interviewed added immeasurably to her show. Within a short time I got to know her a little, and it always felt like a compliment to see her around town and have her remember who one was. Melodious voice, gracious, involved in making life better for everyone. Thank you, Shirley Newhook!

Sue and family, thank you for sharing your mom with us. She was a very special lady, and way ahead of her time. I admired her work before I got in the media business, and learned a thing or two…and maybe more…. from watching some of her interviews. Condolences to all who loved her, and all she loved.

Sue, Tracey, Chris and families, I am so sorry to hear of your Mom’s passing. She was an amazing woman with boundless energy and time for all who asked. I have so many wonderful memories of chatting with her and her observations on life and the human condition were always equal parts keen insight and wit. She will be missed. Sending you love and hugs, Janet

It was a pleasure to have Shirley as a Resident in our care. We always enjoyed putting on her favourite tunes and hearing her sing along. She was always keen to walk to our PT department but less excited with the exercise part of the plan. We never really succeeded in separating her from the all important purse so any exercise had to incorporate her purse! Condolences to all of Shirley’s family-I am sure she will be missed.

To the Newhook family, Shirley was a gem of a person, and great contributor to the community of St .Johns. Whenever you met her she was always open to conversation and had a very pleasant way about her. Rest In Peace Shirley our friend. Sam & Eleanor Walters

She was a powerful woman who used her power to make our world a better place. A life well lived.
Wendy Williams

My sincere condolences Chris on the loss of your mom. Its been many years since we have been in touch but in TO we had many chats about what a wonderful lady she was and her many accomplishments down here in NL. She was a very special lady and will be missed by many. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

To the Newhook family,
Sending condolences of the passing of your Mom, Gramdmother.
I fondly remember seeing your Mom while at Brinton Memorial. Some people you always remember.
Thinking of you at this difficult time

To Sue and all the family my sincerest sympathy. I guess you can tell from the comments here and on Facebook how highly thought of Shirley was.. She was always a pleasure to work with – a thorough professional but even more so one of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. RIP Shirley.

Mrs. N. was always such a noble woman, always composed and dignified but at the same time always warm and friendly, knew how to say the right thing, smile and be gracious. I always looked up to her. She always made me feel like I mattered and that meant a lot to me. I can’t imagine how much you have all missed her in your lives these last few years, but I know you all inherited some of her phenomenal strength, and you will carry on doing her credit. Much love to all of you. Marie in Dublin

Dear Sue ,
Our thoughts are with you . Your mother was a very impressive woman .
Much love and will talk to you soon ,
Tom and Paul
Washington DC

Tracey and family. Thinking of you all during this sad time. Lorne, I remember how often you spoke fondly of Shirley, how she took your twin girls every Monday for their “special day” with grandma. Shirley left many wonderful memories which will continue to keep her close in your hearts and minds. Rest in peace and love Shirley. HUGS

I had the honour and privilege to be a member of The Rotary Club of St. John’s and she was truly one of the kinds people I have met.. During her show coffee break, Shirley interviewed both my mother and her father about what it was like to grow up in St. John’s in the ’40s as a police officer.. My condolences to all of Shirley’s family and friends.