Life devoted to selfless caring
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).