Shirley Anne Larkin Tassencourt died March 4 at Talbot Hospice in Easton, Md. She was 94.

She was born on Dec. 5, 1926, in Chungking, China to George R. and Anne S. Larkin, who were academic missionaries teaching at West China Union University. In 1927, her family returned to Gettysburg, Pa., where her father joined the economics department at Gettysburg College as a professor.

After growing up in Gettysburg, Shirley attended the University of Pennsylvania, Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, earning a BFA. There she met her future husband, Jessie Maurice Tassencourt, and after the birth of their daughters, Zoe and Andrea, they moved to Media, west of Philadelphia. There she discovered a small, progressive school, called The School in Rose Valley, where she became the art teacher, making it possible for her daughters to attend this unique and wonderful school. It was a transformative experience for both Shirley and her daughters. She continued her career as an art teacher, after discovering the educational and spiritual philosophies of Rudolf Steiner, and spent a year in England studying and earning her Waldorf teaching certification.

When she returned from England, she was hired to teach art and ceramics at the Kimberton Farm School, a Waldorf (Steiner) school in Phoenixville, Pa., and later taught at the Waldorf school outside Sacramento, Calif.

Shirley walked through this world sowing enthusiasm, joy, inspiration and inner peace. She was an accomplished artist, but most of all she was an artist of life. She was interested in and appreciative of each person she met, and inspired their best qualities. A true nature lover, she brought her passion for animals and the natural world to her classroom, once bringing a boa constrictor into class so her students could see and draw its beauty up close. Everyone loved art class with Shirley. She continued to lead art workshops well into her 80s.

In the early 1960s, she attended a weekend retreat to learn about Zen Buddhism. It changed her life. Her experience inspired her to sit for initiation with the spiritual teacher, Kirpal Singh. After a divorce, she decided to use the funds she had from the sale of the family house to build a house on Martha’s Vineyard. She helped design a unique three-story house, and became a loved and respected member of the vibrant art community on the Island.

Closer to retirement, she relocated to the high desert community of Dragoon, Ariz. It was an ambitious new period in her life, where she and her grandson, Dominic Howes, built a pair of dome-shaped dwellings made entirely of earth. She and two neighbors created a land trust to protect 15 acres of towering rock formations.

After experiencing a broken hip, Shirley came to live with her younger daughter, Zoe, in Sebastopol, where she enjoyed a large extended family, the local Satsang community, as well as many days spent sitting by the ocean. She spent her last six months living with her older daughter, Andrea, in Cordova, Md.

She is survived by her daughters, Andrea Tassencourt and Zoe Tassencourt, her niece Marianne Larkin, as well as her grandchildren Dominic Howes, Daniel Howes, Jessie Ann Howes, and Dustin Skylar Tassencourt Wright; and four great-grandchildren.