SHIRLEY ANNE (FINN) SHEEHAN
August 4, 1929 - January 9, 2023
A rosary will be said on Thursday, January 12, 2023 at 6:00 PM with a vigil service at 6:30 followed by a visitation at 7:00 PM at Schooler Funeral Home, 4100 South Georgia.
Shirley Anne Sheehan passed away on January 9, 2023, in Canyon, TX. She was a long time resident of Dallas and moved to the panhandle in 2016.
She was born in Brooklyn, NY, on August 4, 1929, just as the Great Depression began, to Ben and Lou Finn. She was followed by four younger sisters who were forever the bedrock of her emotional security. Shirley described their early years in Brooklyn and later in Winchester MA as one adventure after another. She got to see the Queen Mary steam into New York Harbor on its maiden voyage and she got to wave to the soldiers as they marched off to fight in the war. She attended Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Academy in Boston and then Regis College. At a time when women’s education was not valued, all five of the Finn girls were sent to college. Her own daughters were sent out into the world, taking it for granted that they would be high achievers.
After the war ended, Shirley met and married her husband, Richard L. Sheehan of Boston, just back from four years of fighting in Europe. She followed him to Dallas, which was quite a shock for them both, coming from their large and protective Irish Catholic families. She adjusted by finding a community through her beloved Catholic Church. She used to say: “If you are Catholic, you can go anywhere in the world, walk into a church, and you are home.”
Shirley was a cheerful soul who understood that accepting life’s ups and downs was crucial to a contented mind. Joy and amazement for everyday pleasures were a natural instinct for her. She knew no strangers and chatted unselfconsciously with all. She had the gift of making everyone she talked to feel special and interesting.
Shirley was a stay at home mom while her two daughters, Ayne and Meg, were little. Later she went on to get her masters degree from East Texas State University in Special Education, followed by her certification as a reading specialist from Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas. She was a member of the Orton Dyslexic Society and the IDA, which focuses on the research and teaching of reading through phonics.
She became a special education diagnostician in two public school systems near Dallas (Farmer’s Branch and Carrollton). She retired from the school system at 70 and immediately went to work at Preston Hollow Presbyterian School, teaching the littlest ones to read. She retired again from there at 80 and immediately began volunteering five days a week at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, an inner city school. She finally truly retired at 83.
After 37 years with her beloved Dick, Shirley was widowed at age 59. She soon decided that no other man could interest her and instead threw herself into her work and her friends. She liked being busy and was rarely at home. She was always out, either working or walking the neighborhood at her trademark super speed, or socializing or volunteering. She travelled the world with her friends, sang with the Sweet Adeline’s and played guitar at Mass with the Notes Of Joy. She went to the movies weekly with her Widows Club. Her happiest times were the leisurely and joyful Sunday brunches with her friends, after Mass at St. Rita’s. She and her sisters had regular reunions, meeting up all over the country for weekends of non-stop talk and laughter.
She slowly developed Alzheimer’s disease in her 80’s and was a model of graciously acceding to its limitations. She made aging seem not so scary, or even serious. She laughed and chatted all the way through to the end, always delighted and grateful for the help of her devoted caregivers at Conner Place and the visits of her companion Donna Johnson.
She leaves behind her daughter and son-in-law, Ayne and Joe Sharp, who took loving care of her in her last years. She also leaves behind her daughter Meg Sheehan (Bob Schaffer); granddaughters Jessica Sanders and Elizabeth Eastman (Darren Eastman); her great-grandchildren Chaylee Snyder (Jake Snyder), Paige Eastman and Preston Eastman; her great-great-grandson Cooper Snyder; her sister Amy Joyce of Atlanta, as well as her many nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her husband Richard, her sisters Kathleen, Mary and her sister Margie.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations could be made to Catholic Relief Services, one of Shirley’s favorite charities.