Former Boise Women’s Crisis Center director remembered

Shay Yandell Hirsch died Feb. 3.

awebb@idahostatesman.comFebruary 11, 2014 

Shay Yandell Hirsch

Shay Yandell Hirsch was known for her intrepid spirit and the service she provided to the community.


Shay Yandell Hirsch loved the West, the writer Wallace Stegner and hiking in the Sawtooths.

Hirsch, 66, died in New York City from complications of cancer. She wrote frequently about her fight with multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer. She preferred the sign-off: “Onward!”

“She didn’t ever want to use the word ‘struggle,’ ” said Charles Wilson, a writer at the New York Times who was a friend and who wrote Hirsch’s obituary. “She wanted to use the word ‘battle.’ ”

She was an example of “dignity, grace and good spirits” even through considerable health challenges, he said. “I was struck by what a beautiful person she was.”

After marrying George Hirsch in 1989, she moved to Manhattan. The couple kept a home in Sun Valley and visited Idaho frequently. She was an avid runner, skier and hiker. Her husband was chairman of the New York City Marathon.

Hirsch’s step-father was falconist and conservationist Morley Nelson, who helped establish the World Center for Birds of Prey. Nelson died in 2005.

Hirsch graduated from Boise High in 1965. She became a social worker after graduating from Whitman College in Washington. She began her career working with at-risk young people at Boise’s Warm Springs Counseling Center, which is now part of the Children’s Home Society. She became the director of the Women’s Crisis Center in 1988.

Shirley Ewing, retired principal of Boise’s Cynthia Mann Elementary School, met Hirsch in Boise when both were 10. The two remained close for the remaining 55 years of Hirsch’s life.

“Even when she was 10, she had that wonderful smile,” said Ewing. Her friend loved adventure — “ready to do anything,” said Ewing.

Hirsch put others before herself and was able to “meet and greet with anybody from any walk of life,” said Ewing.

Hirsch had two sons from her first marriage. Ian Scrivner lives in New York and Sean Scrivner who lives in Boise.

Anna Webb: 377-6431

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