Sheila Mary Sylvester’s life was cut too short too fast from pancreatic cancer, and she died surrounded by her loving family. Sheila loved her family, dogs, cats and reading most of all, but was also an avid hiker and traveler, stamp collector, birdwatcher, quilter, genealogist and just all around amazing human being.
We’re burying her in the mountains of West Virginia next to her beloved husband, Lester Arthur Woodruff, where they built a little cabin in the woods. They spent many loving years there, most often in the company of their friends and family. Sheila leaves behind her sister, Caroline (Carrie) Sylvester McIntyre and her husband, Forrest, her brother, Carl Sylvester and his wife Marcy and a host of children and grandchildren. Sheila didn’t birth us but, oh, did she mother us, and Artie, Annie, Nathan, Angie and Kerrie will always miss her. She reached down past us to love, help and delight her ten grandchildren as well.
After her husband Les passed away, Sheila spent many years with Leopold Chen, whom she loved dearly (and he loved her right back). His children Tim, Steve and Sarah also became Sheila’s children, and their children her grandchildren. We have often remarked that Sheila singlehandedly brought together three families, spread across the entire continental United States, and was the lynchpin around which we revolved.
Sheila was born in Biddeford, Maine to Charles Herbert Sylvester and Shirley Nell Manhart. They, along with her stepmother, Elizabeth Claire Hodgkinson, predeceased her. Sheila graduated from Newburyport High School in 1966 and Boston State College in 1978. She retired from Orbital Sciences in 2014 after a long and active career. Never one to sit still for long, she remained active in Toastmasters and the Lions Club, serving as the volunteer coordinator for the Bell Ringers at the Salvation Army until she became ill in November 2020.
Sheila was a gentle, loving soul who believed that “we’re all doing the best we can,” and was slow to anger, quick to forgive. She has made an indelible mark on so many lives, and we are so grateful for the time we shared in her orbit.