Shirley Tyree. Image credit: Thomas Funeral Home

Age 82 – January 12, 2021

In mid-January of 2021, North Omaha lost a cherished matriarch and pioneer for Omaha Public Schools. Shirley Tyree was a fierce advocate for Omaha Public Schools’  students and staff while serving on the OPS board for 20 years. Tyree, 82, died Jan. 12 in her home surrounded by family members after her battle with blood cancer.

Former Omaha Public Schools Director Luanne Mainelli Nelson, who worked with Tyree, said she had “a calm and direct way getting her point across when discussing issues impacting her OPS family.”

Carolyn Green of Girls Inc. said Tyree generously gave her smile to those who had the opportunity to work with her.

Nelson added, “Shirley also had a great sense of humor and a delightful witty personality.” Many who worked with Tyree remember her leadership and integrity along with her tough yet loving approach with the young women she mentored in Girls Inc.

“She was good with the girls. She was like the grandma hand with the girls when she interacted with them,” said Girls Inc. Director of Health Carolyn Green, who hired her to be a part-time mentor.

“Whenever you saw her, she is just a very happy person, just a very happy spirit,” noted Green.

Carolyn Green remembered breezing by Tyree’s office door hearing her humming and singing, which would make her linger by her door to hear more. “I didn’t stick my head in the door because then she would stop and talk so I would just slowly pass, but whenever she does talk with others, there’s always a smile on her face.”

Green said Tyree brought a lot of joy to the Omaha community through her talent, then she blessed the community with her daughter, local legend, “Omaha’s Own Queen of Soul,” Kathy Tyree.

“Who could ask for anything more?… I did have the opportunity numerous times to see the two of them sing together, which was outstanding.”

— Carolyn Green

Tyree is also well-known in the local theatre community in Omaha with her appearances at the Omaha Community Playhouse, the Dundee Dinner Theater and the Center Stage. Along with her daughter, Kathy, Tyree is survived by her three sons: Darwin Seals of Omaha, Curtis Tyree of Las Vegas and DJ Tyree of Omaha; stepdaughter Antoinette Russ of Omaha; sister: Vyree (Karl) Russell of Omaha; godsister: Beatrice Coleman; goddaughter: Lisa Tarver of Omaha; 17 grandchildren; and 22 great-grandchildren.

(Reprinted with permission from

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