City of Oaks Funeral Home & Cremation

Shirley Ann Leonard

Wilmington, North Carolina

Age 84.
Died 01/04/2024.

Shirley Ann Leonard
Shirley Ann Sellers Leonard, 84, peacefully passed away January 4, 2024, in Wilmington, North Carolina, after a sudden and brief illness, with her loving family by her side.

Born December 24, 1939, in Sanford, NC, to the late Ernest “Mac” Sellers and Ruth Marshall Thomas, Shirley was one of four siblings. She is survived by her devoted daughter, Michelle Manning (Wilmington); her beloved brother Mackie (Florida) and her other two siblings; numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins; her ex-son-in-law, Kris Petersen (Wilmington); and her adorable Lhasa Apso, Herself.

She graduated New Hanover High School in 1958, where she was an excellent student, editor of the newspaper, and a member of the chorus.

As a single mother, Shirley completed her teaching degree at Wilmington College, where she was an editor of The Seahawk, and went on to complete graduate studies at the University of North Carolina. She taught English in Sanford; Charlotte Amalie High School in St. Thomas, USVI; and Pinecrest High School in Southern Pines, NC. In addition to being a reporter for The Sanford Herald and a feature writer for The Pilot, Shirley turned her drive and ambition to building and development, becoming the first licensed female contractor in North Carolina, building and rehabbing homes in Sanford, Southern Pines, and Wilmington. Shirley briefly lived in Ireland where she bred and raised Connemara ponies. She also taught English in China on and off for more than a decade.

After surviving life-threatening breast cancer at the age of 51, Shirley took up painting as art therapy at the behest of her daughter. Too weak to paint standing, she painted with a canvas on her lap, a habit she never changed. After her first three paintings were juried into a show in Raleigh, she went on to paint prolifically and exhibited in St. Thomas, Wilmington, Chapel Hill, and China.

After “retiring,” she lived in Orlando, Florida, for almost 20 years, where she enjoyed ballroom dancing and being an active Elks and Moose club member.

She left Florida in 2016 and returned to Wilmington to live with her daughter for the last six years of her life. A lifelong member of Calvary Baptist Church since the age of 12, Shirley embraced her church family and the opportunity to ‘dress to the nines’ every Sunday complete with a matching hat. At various points, she sang in the choir and taught Sunday school, and she remained an active member of her cherished prayer group, with her last entry into her prayer and daily devotional journal dated December 30, the day before she entered the hospital.

Shirley’s loving spirit, intelligence, courage, humor, and generosity will forever be remembered and treasured, especially by her daughter, Michelle, who is thankful every day for the time spent together during their final six years, which were filled with laughter, love and adventures.

A funeral service will be held at 2:00 PM, Friday, February 2 at Calvary Baptist Church, 423 N 23rd St., Wilmington, NC 28405. The family will receive guests at 10 Conch Lane, Wrightsville Beach, following the service from 3:30-5:30.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Calvary Christian School Scholarship Fund or to a charity of your choice.

For additional information or for service details, please reach out to the family directly.

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City of Oaks Cremation and Funeral Home is a full-service funeral home in Raleigh, serving all of North Carolina and beyond. We provide an alternative to costly funeral homes and every day we help families in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and all over North Carolina make simple, affordable funeral arrangements.

Simply having to reach out to a funeral home can feel overwhelming. Our goal is to simplify the entire funeral home experience and make the process as easy as possible. We hope to eliminate any unnecessary surprises by publishing our total cost and the services we provide directly on our website. All of our obituaries are provided free of charge as a way to help families celebrate and commemorate the lives of their loved ones.

Our Promise

Apples to Apples

Just like all other licensed funeral homes in North Carolina, City of Oaks Cremation, LLC is regulated by the NC Board of Funeral Service.

The same laws that apply to the big corporate funeral homes also apply to the modest independently owned firms like ours. All crematories in North Carolina, regardless of who owns them, are inspected annually by the state and must adhere to the same rules and laws.

Genuine Care

We're committed to providing families within our community unsurpassed service before, during and after the time of loss.

Our staff will provide clear communication to your family through each step as we move forward from the original phone call notifying us of a death to the time we deliver the urn back to your family. We will treat your family with the utmost respect, as we honor the wishes of your loved one.

We promise to make this process affordable and as endurable as possible.

State Wide

Our Funeral Home is located in Wake County NC; however, we provide our services to families throughout the entire State.

Unlike other funeral homes, we don't charge an additional mileage fee. Regardless of what county you live in, we can help your family with making simple, affordable funeral arrangements. From Asheville to Wilmington, we're proud to help families statewide.

Our Services

Direct Cremation


Nobody likes surprise costs added in at the last minute. We guarantee you will not find any hidden charges here. We include everything you need for a simple or direct cremation. Simple, affordable and reliable. We have not changed the cost of our direct cremation service since we opened City of Oaks in 2012.

Cremation with Solidified Remains


We offer the option of choosing how you receive your loved ones remains. Selecting our Direct Cremation with Solidified Remains option is a beautiful way to transform cremated remains into 40-60 “stones” that you can hold.

Cremation with Visitation


City of Oaks Funeral Home and Cremation provides an affordable cremation option with onsite visitation. Nobody likes surprise costs added in at the last minute. We guarantee you will not find any hidden charges here. Simple, affordable and reliable.

Immediate Burial


An immediate burial has the same end result as a traditional burial; however, we have eliminated the extra (sometimes unnecessary) services prior to getting to the cemetery. Not everyone wants an open casket for viewing or a limousine for the family. Despite the term immediate, we can move as fast as you need or as slow as you like. This option simply allows you to save money by eliminating some of the fancy extras at the funeral home.

Traditional Funeral


We offer the same traditional funeral services as the big corporately owned funeral homes in the area; however, we cost about half the amount. You might consider a traditional funeral service if your family is looking for an open casket visitation, a traditional church service or a funeral service in the funeral home's chapel. A traditional funeral service can be altered to fit the needs of your family.

Green Burial


This establishment is one of a select number of funeral homes who meet the criteria for providing green funeral service by the Green Burial Council; a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization working to encourage environmentally sustainability in the field of funeral service. Our Green options allow for a funeral to take place without the use of toxic and non-biodegradable materials/chemicals.



As an alternative to traditional cremation, City of Oaks Funeral Home also offers Aquamation. The Aquamation process, often referred to as alkaline hydrolysis, uses a solution of water and potassium hydroxide to facilitate natural decomposition.

City of Oaks Funeral Home & Cremations