She was known as the sweet old lady who ran the baseball card shop in a small West Virginia town that hugs the Ohio River.
But Shirley Ann DeQuasie did more than sell cards and supplies for 29 years in Ravenswood. Her store, S&S Baseball Cards & Collectibles, was a gathering place for friends.
Shirley would bring homemade “dessert things” to her shop, especially her cookies and zucchini bread. She’d talk cards with a boy who walked to the shop daily from school, waiting for his parents — who worked as teachers in another town — to pick him up as the returned from work. And when she was younger, it was Shirley who would take some of the town kids to a Cincinnati Reds baseball game, navigating the 180-mile trip through the winding roads of West Virginia and southern Ohio — and then driving back the same day.
Shirley DeQuasie passed away peacefully at her home on Aug. 18, surrounded by her family. She was 78. She was buried three days later at the Ravenswood Cemetery, dressed in the jersey of LeBron James, which honored her favorite player and stirred memories of her days as a high school basketball player in Marietta, Ohio, when girls’ sports were almost an afterthought.
“She played on dirt floors,” said her daughter, Bonnie DeQuasie Smith, who now handles day-to-day operations of the shop with her husband, Rod Smith.
Card Shop is “Shirley’s Legacy”
“After talking with the family and a number of regular customers, (we’ve) decided to keep (Shirley’s) legacy alive by keeping the shop open,” Rod said. “We just assumed she’d outlive us all.
“Her passing happened so quickly that no one was prepared. One Friday she is at the shop talking to customers and the next Friday, she is gone.”
Shirley is buried near the grave of her son, Wilson Boyd DeQuasie, who was killed in an automobile accident on June 8, 1985. He was 18.
Wilson’s death was the spark that led to the S&S shop. “Shirley wanted to stay connected to young people and get out of the house,” Rod Smith said. “She needed this connection.”
Rod remembered Wilson as a great athlete. “I probably ran a thousand miles with him. He could golf and play basketball. He couldn’t play football, but he could throw the ball 60 yards.”
“My son lived for sports,” Shirley told The Jackson View newspaper a few years ago. “I needed some way to connect with kids again.
“And quite honestly, my husband (Carl) and I needed a way to pay some bills.”
The gamble paid off. The store at 206 Washington St. began as a second-hand goods and sports card shop, but collectibles soon became the main focus. Businessmen who were children when Shirley opened the store would return years later to browse through cards.
“That’s what makes it neat,” Bonnie said. “Some of them haven’t been there in ten years but they come back to look for cards.”
Young or old, they’d let Shirley pick cards out of a box for them, and nobody left disappointed. Sometimes a celebrity might show up, like Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson. He posed for a picture in the shop, next to Shirley, sporting (as usual) some kind of LeBron James shirt. Before King James, Shirley loved Michael Jordan.
The card shop is heavily stacked with memorabilia of the Reds, Bengals, Cleveland Cavaliers, Pittsburgh Steelers, West Virginia University and Marshall University.
The Smiths have a special connection with Marshall, as their son, Bryan, was an extra in the 2006 movie, “We Are Marshall,” a film that showed the return of the school’s football team after 75 members of the squad, staff and boosters were killed in a 1970 plane crash.
“He was a Xavier player waving his helmet during a game,” Rod Smith said, referencing Marshall’s 1971 home opener, won 15-13 by the Thundering Herd.
He also has been an extra in “The Hunger Games,” and “The Walking Dead.” Since Topps has produced some “Walking Dead” trading cards on the market, the younger Smith could conceivably be in the background of one of the cards.
These days, Bonnie Smith takes over behind the counter that her mother held court from for three decades. She confessed she had no interest in sports while her mother ran the card shop. “None,” she said. “I just kind of watched Mom, and she wanted to continue the business in the family.
“I love watching the little kids open packs, to see their faces.”
The Smiths also love watching Carl DeQuasie in action at the shop.
“We’re finding out he knows the business better than we thought,” Rod said.
Carl and Shirley DeQuasie were married on Sept. 5, 1956. The Smiths have been married 41 years and are learning new things about Shirley.
“We’re finding out how much everyone loved her,” Rod Smith said. “We’ve learned a lot about Mom.
“When you’re family you’re kind of close, so you don’t have the perspective that others might have,” he said. “A lot of folks who have been customers for years have shared stories of good times they shared with Mom.”
Since taking over the business, Bonnie and Rod Smith have been receiving condolences from old customers and have been welcoming new ones. It has been business as usual — almost.
“The difference will be that Mom won’t be there to celebrate with customers who pull a great card or harass those who are not so fortunate,” Rod said.
S&S Baseball Cards and Collectibles is located at 206 Washington St., in Ravenswood, about 45 minutes north of Charleston. The store is open Monday through Saturday.