Sheila Marie Zittel passed away peacefully on July 20, 2021 at the age of 70 in Brunswick, Maine. Sheila was born to John and Mary Fahey Barry on April 24, 1951 in Norwich, Connecticut and grew up in a busy household with sisters Noreen and Kathy and brother Paul. Raised in Norwich, she graduated from Norwich Free Academy in 1969, then continued to receive a Bachelor of Arts degree from Albertus Magnus College in 1973 with a major in history. She then completed coursework from the Central Connecticut State University in 1977 satisfying requirements for a teaching certificate. Continuing her education, Sheila earned a Master of Arts degree from the University of Connecticut in 1980 with a concentration in Adult and Continuing Education. Having met her husband-to-be in sailing classes at Mystic Seaport, they married in June of 1988 and settled in Mystic, Connecticut. She spent a fulfilling career in adult education, first as an adult educator at the Naval Submarine Base in Groton, Connecticut, at the Servicemen’s Opportunity College of Mohegan Community College, and for the Norwich Board of Education. She then worked as a Volunteer Program Manager at the Connecticut State Hospital of Norwich, Connecticut from 1981 to 1996 and at the Veterans Home and Hospital in Rocky Hill, Connecticut from 1997 to 2003. Those experiences left her with a deep and abiding love for improving the lives of veterans. After her retirement, she and her husband resettled in Bath, Maine.
Service was a passion for her. A sampling of her many volunteer activities includes Board memberships for the Mystic Community Center, the Retired Senior Volunteer Program of Northern New London County, and the Voluntary Action Center of Norwich Connecticut. She volunteered for United Way Day of Caring, [Connecticut] Governor’s Council for Voluntary Action, Women’s Center of Southeastern Connecticut, Auxiliaries of the Norwich Hospital and the Southeastern Mental Health Authority, Mystic Seaport Museum, the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center, Maine Maritime Museum, and many others.
She held affiliations with the Association for Volunteer Administration, the Connecticut Association for Directors of Volunteer Services in Healthcare, and the Directors of Volunteers in Agencies of Southeastern Connecticut. Among her diverse volunteer experiences, she cherished her memory of playing a small role in construction of the schooner Amistad at Mystic Seaport. Sheila was a lifelong learner who took pleasure in training her pet cats Maggie and later Noni, in learning American Sign Language, and in birding and wildlife. She was a wonderful cook who loved creating meals for friends and family. She also enjoyed ‘messing about in boats’ with her husband; whether sailing, kayaking, or letting him do the rowing while she did the birdwatching.
Sheila was predeceased by her parents and her sister Noreen Barry; and is survived by her husband John Zittel, her sister Noreen’s husband Charles Barry, her sister Kathy Barry Shannon and husband Bill, her brother Paul Barry and wife Robin, numerous nieces and nephews, and the many others who knew her, loved her, and will keep her memory alive.
Interment will be private. Her family anticipates holding a Celebration of her Life at a future date and place yet to be determined. As it becomes available, information will be posted on the web site of Desmond and Son Funeral Home, Bath, Maine. Memorial donations are welcomed to the Local Needs Fund, First Parish Church, Brunswick, Maine or to the PILOTS Endowment Fund, Mystic Seaport Museum, Mystic, Connecticut.
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