Shelley Golden was a rock star to the multitudes who knew and loved her

Shelley and Richard Golden stand at right with their family at Gabriella’s bat mitzvah. (Photo courtesy of the family.) You will find a gallery of photos to enjoy, below.

Our friend Shelley was so full of wit, grit, dazzle and spunk, I can’t come close to describing the supernova she was.  But I owe it to her to try.

With apologies to A.E. Housman, I paraphrase a verse from his classic poem “To an Athlete Dying Young.”  For Shelley, we’ll call it: “To an Aesthete Dying Young.”

Smart lass, to slip betimes away/ From fields where glory does not stay./ And early though the laurel grows/ It withers quicker than the rose.

Shelley slipped away from life and glory much too soon.  She adored art and beauty and was mad for roses.  Especially Golden ones.  On excursions to antiques fairs and shops in NoMI, I witnessed Shelley’s delight in discovering hand towels, china and anything else adorned with yellow roses.  When we returned to her charming home overlooking the harbor in Charlevoix, MI (which I featured in design magazines), she insisted I consult on the placement of her latest yellow rose acquisition.  She loved flowers outside as well.  In front of her home, she planted a charming heart shaped garden.

Shelley and I were strolling down Dixon (her street) some 15 years ago when she said something that made my heart plummet.  Her gynecologist had spotted a cyst on her ovaries. They’d “watch” it.

My friend Ginger Curtis, diagnosed with MS at 35, had created a healing labyrinth in her Petoskey, MI, backyard.  (Mythology Scholar Ginger Curtis Gets Her Sign; Godsigns, 2015/09/13)  Shelley and I walked Ginger’s labyrinth, praying for Shelley’s recovery.  Sadly, it wasn’t to be.  After years of debilitating chemo treatments and countless visits to medical centers for ovarian cancer, Shelley died last week.  She was 75.   She leaves behind her dynamic husband Richard with whom she conceived and built SEE, a successful eyewear company.  Son Seth, who followed in his father’s footsteps taking over SEE.  Daughter Jessica, a professional comedian/TV writer in LA.  And four grandchildren, one of whom—a girl—is on the Little Caesars competitive AAA travel hockey team.

Shelley and Richard’s offspring spoke at her funeral in Michigan on Dec. 18.  Seth recalled, “Fifteen years ago to this month my mom was diagnosed.  It was a long shot she’d be at Hillary’s and my wedding.  But not only was she there, she danced all night.  Mom never let her difficult challenge stop her from showing up 100%.”

Daughter Jessica said, “My beautiful momma was my absolute hero, the funniest person I ever knew, and I work with a lot of comedians.  She never flinched about being my star subject.”

Case in point: Jessica’s routine about Jewish mothers ordering dinner.  “My momma called herself a Rock ‘n Roll Grandma.  She was 100% authentic and 1000% lovable.”

Deeming Shelley “all sunlight and optimism,” Rabbi Harold Loss said Shelley was once asked how many languages she spoke.  “Only English,” she said, “but a lot of it.”  Shelley and Richard met at a party, Rabbi Loss said.  Richard was 16; Shelley, 15.  In a contest for the then popular dance the Twist, Richard won for the boys; Shelley, for the girls. Rabbi Loss said Richard wrote on Shelley’s high school senior yearbook photo, “To the woman most likely to become the mother of my children.”

With a Masters degree in Social Work from Oakland U., Shelley was known and loved for her big heart.  Rabbi Loss said Shelley walked by a homeless man, asked his name and returned bringing him something to eat.  At one point, the man asked her, “What’s tonight’s cuisine?”

Richard and his brother Randal bought Detroit-based DOC optical company from their father, local celeb Donald L. Golden, and took it to another level. Around 1998, Richard and Shelley created a hipper brand of eyewear and launched SEE.  Shelley came up with the name. Featuring “hip without the rip” high-fashion eyewear, SEE has won “Best Optical” 81 times in newspapers and magazines around the nation.  At annual company-wide meetings, Shelley could be counted on for words of motivation and humor.

After Shelley’s funeral, I got together on ZOOM with some of her BFFs.  Peggy Daitch spoke of Shelley’s “megawatt smile” saying Shelley “wasn’t just warm; she was hot.  She always leaned in.”  Brenda Rosenberg recalled how Shelley “literally” saved her life.  The morning of Yom Kippur eve, in 2019, Brenda and Shelley were together for coffee.  Brenda dropped her cellphone.  She bent down but was unable to pick it up.  “Shelley said, ‘Don’t move, Brenda. You’re having a stroke.’  She said it as calmly as if I were ordering a bagel for breakfast.”  Shelley called 911 and Brenda’s husband Howard.  Brenda was rushed to the hospital and is fully recovered.  Zina Kramer observed “in the process of healing herself, Shelley learned a lot about medicine.”  Sandy Seligman talked about playing Canasta with Shelley.  “She’d show up at the last minute and seem clueless about her cards,” Sandy said.  “Somehow she always won.”

Shelley’s home was spotless.  In the powder room, corners of toilet paper were turned back in a V; paper towels, neatly stacked.  At a Golden party, Brenda and the Goldens’ old friend Alan Sussman decided to prank Shelley by tearing off the folded T.P. and riffling the paper towels.  Though they never observed Shelley in the act, order was always promptly restored.

Shelley’s girlfriends were well represented in the framed photos she displayed.  She was proud of the shelf in her bookcase filled with with books by her friends.

Shelley dressed beautifully and wore (but claimed to be embarrassed by) a big diamond ring Richard gave her.  Putting laundry into a washing machine one day in Miami, Shelley snagged the ring and noticed the stone was missing. Ever resourceful, she called her brother-in-law, who lived near the restaurant where she’d eaten lunch.  He checked under the chair in which Shelley had sat.  Stone found.  Crisis averted.

Like the ring she wore, Shelley was a gem.

Her stature was petite, but her spirit was huge.

For the legion of fans and friends she  made wherever she went, the world has lost some of its sparkle.

Care to see more?

First, here’s a video of Jessica:

A much younger Richard and Shelley.

Celebrating together, from top left: Suzy Farbman, Brenda Rosenberg, Florine Mark. Bottom: Peggy Daitch and Shelley Golden.

Shelley’s heart-shaped flower bed. (Photo courtesy of Brenda Rosenberg.)


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12 thoughts on “Shelley Golden was a rock star to the multitudes who knew and loved her

  1. Suzy Farbman Post author

    Comments received on FB:
    Antonina Victor: Well said. Thank you, Suzy.
    Rita Dunker: Shelley was beyond precious. What a loss.
    Jan Silverman: Beautiful.
    Susan Sosnick: She will live on in many hearts forever! Miss you, precious person. Rest in Peace.

  2. Suzy Farbman Post author

    Comments received on FB:
    Lynne Kukes: Beautiful words for beautiful Shelley.
    Solange Messelian: She was golden as a child way before she became a Golden. Loved her and miss her. What a treasure.
    Sandy Hermanoff: One in a zillion. Will miss her forever.

  3. Gary Wasserman

    A beautiful tribute. Thanks for helping all of us feel once again Shelley’s presence, love, energy, strength, and giant charisma in a dazzling pint size whirlwind! She will always be loved and remembered with smiles and gratitude for having been in our lives.

  4. Suzy Farbman Post author

    as emailed from Amy Farbman
    A beautiful tribute to a beautiful woman. You honored her life with your heartfelt words. Shelley will be missed.

  5. Suzy Farbman Post author

    Thanks, Theresa. So glad you enjoyed. Really appreciate your commenting on the website. Sending e-hugs! xoS

  6. Theresa Selvaggio

    Suzy- this is such a lovely tribute to your friend Shelley. You honored your dear friend with your impressive writing skills and story telling. Sending you my best. Great Fashion Group memories. Theresa Selvaggio

  7. Suzy Farbman Post author

    As emailed from Linda Schlesinger Wagner
    “I’m sitting at the airport in Mexico and just read your words. I’m crying. She was the woman who always lovingly pushed my hair behind my eats. The moment count. Wish I nested in with her more. Damn she was the most positive smiling gal. Thank you for bringing her to such light.
    Thanks, LSW. We were privileged to be Shelley’s friends. Thanks for your sweet response.

  8. Linda Solomon

    You captured everything about her… she made everyone feel special… It was a gift to know her. Thank you.!!!

    1. Suzy Farbman Post author

      She truly had a gift for making others feel special. Well said, Linda. Thanks for commenting. xoS

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