Life de­voted to self­less car­ing

Geelong Advertiser - - NEWS - NICK WADE

IT was often said that Jeanette Shea­han was the only per­son who could sell you a pie on a Satur­day morn­ing at the footy, a raf­fle ticket at lunch time, a beer in the af­ter­noon and give you com­mu­nion on Sun­day morn­ing.

So it came as no sur­prise to see “Mrs Bell Park” still work­ing the crowd at her beloved footy club late this sea­son, sell­ing bun­dles of tick­ets de­spite the dis­cov­ery of cancer that cut short a life of com­pas­sion, ded­i­ca­tion, gen­eros­ity and hu­mour at 77 on Oc­to­ber 1.

“Mum was al­ways in for the long haul. She didn’t do things by halves and never failed to com­plete a job or project,” daugh­ter Teresa said.

The long haul, in­deed. Her vol­un­teer­ing and com­mu­nity ser­vice was ex­tra­or­di­nary.

Two decades on var­i­ous school com­mit­tees, 40 years as­so­ci­ated with Bar­won Row­ing Club, a decade with Meals on Wheels, 12 years as­sist­ing with St Vin­cent de Paul’s op shop, 30 years with the Gee­long and Bel­lar­ine tourism body, 34 years in­volved with the Catholic Women’s League of Vic­to­ria and half a cen­tury at her lo­cal parish and dean­ery.

For 33 years, Mrs Shea­han was a fa­mil­iar face and tire­less pres­ence at Bell Park Foot­ball Net­ball Club, where gen­er­a­tions of her fam­ily have been in­volved on and off the field.

Her big­gest com­mit­ment — mar­ried to hus­band Tony for 55 years, liv­ing con­tin­u­ously in the same Sladen St house where they raised their chil­dren Mark, Teresa, An­drew (dec), Peter and Mar­i­anne.

That more than 1000 mourn­ers crammed into St Mary Basil­ica for her fu­neral this week, then formed a guard of hon­our down Yarra St, speaks to a far-reach­ing life that touched so many. A voice of rea­son, calm­ing in­flu­ence and a self­less vol­un­teer, Mrs Shea­han was never late, never flus­tered, showed gen­uine care and em­pa­thy, con­nected with peo­ple of all ages, lived a seem­ingly end­less so­cial life, was well-known for her hu­mour and, even in her last week, ar­ranged a card and rose bush for her dear friend Jose’s 50th wed­ding an­niver­sary.

“Jeanette epit­o­mises what hu­man­ity is all about. She was put here to teach us how we should live,” read a trib­ute at her fu­neral.

Mrs Shea­han be­came Bell Park’s de­fault his­to­rian and pre­served the club’s feats and fail­ures game by game, clip­ping by clip­ping in scrap­books de­voured by play­ers and sup­port­ers. Her game-day raf­fles raised al­most $5000 an­nu­ally for the club. There will in­evitably be a push for some­thing sig­nif­i­cant to be named in her hon­our at the club.

One of her proud­est vol­un­tary pur­suits was when she acted as a guide at the 2000 Syd­ney Olympics.

Mrs Shea­han was diag- nosed with cancer in early June, 10 days af­ter hav­ing her gall blad­der re­moved.

It was hoped the cancer had been caught, but mid­way through last month, af­ter be­ing re-ad­mit­ted to hospi­tal for pain man­age­ment, the cancer had re­turned and was both ad­vanced and ag­gres­sive.

Mrs Shea­han is sur­vived by hus­band Tony, chil­dren Mark, Teresa, Peter and Mar­i­anne, and eight grand­chil­dren.

“We know that when we ring Dad to­mor­row and say, ‘Hi Dad, where’s Mum?’ he will say, ‘Oh I don’t know, some­where do­ing God’s work,” Teresa said.

COM­MU­NITY STAL­WART: Tony and Jeanette Shea­han at a char­ity fundraiser, and with some of their grand­chil­dren in Bell Park Foot­ball Club colours (in­set).

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