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Betty Brown Sheeran
Betty Brown Sheeran passed away peacefully and surrounded by family in the early evening of July 4th, 2018. As a Daughter of the American Revolution, a July 4th death with fireworks lighting up the sky was a detail she would happily have chosen.
Born Betty Lou Brown on May 7, 1926, Betty technically entered this world as the second daughter (sister Margaret the first) born to Rodney G. Brown and Vera Larson Brown, but the firstborn of an unexpected set of twins, her sister Bonnie a surprise. As is often the case with twins, Betty wore her senior status proudly. November 17, 1951 she married Robert Leo Sheeran with whom she had four children: Mark, Kerie, Renee and Conleth.
Betty first attended a Daughters of the American Revolution meeting simply to substantiate the family lore that Captain William Too-good indeed fought in the American Revolution. Immediately enamored with the ancestral hunt, the family curiosity sparked a lifelong interest. For twenty years she steadfastly searched for ancestors, enlisting the help of a renowned genealogist in her determination to authenticate her discoveries. Her research took her to England, Sweden, Norway and Ireland.
When Bobs employer, Merrill Lynch, gave him the unique honor of a four month sabbatical, Bob shared this opportunity with Betty and together they traveled and studied at Oxford University in England, Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, and the Swedish Institute in Karlskoga, Sweden. This endeavor served to enhance her understanding of medieval history, spurring her on to deeper yet discoveries. Eventually she cataloged six family volumes with the Library of Congress covering the family history of both her family and Bobs.
Unlike memberships to some organizations, honor societies in the field of genealogy require proof "by right of descent" and are truly an honor. Betty qualified for The Daughters of the American Revolution; The National Society of Women Descendants of the Ancient and Honor-able Artillery Company of Boston; The General Society of Mayflower Descendants; The National Society of Magna Charger Dames; The Plantagenet Society; The Colonial Order of the Crown; and Descendants of the Founders of Ancient Windsor.
Bob often said that Betty never researched an ancestor she didnt fall in love with, and her books reflect that. She brought each per-sons story lovingly to life, painting for us a picture with her words. She was proud of her work— and indeed it was important, inspiring and impressive—but if you asked Betty what mattered most to her she would without a doubt say family.
Bettys first major relationship was as one of the Brown twins, a celebrity sister act in her small hometown of Waseca, Minnesota. Betty and Bonnie, driven by their grandfather in some version of Fords Model A thirty miles to the neighboring village of Mankato for tap lessons, later danced for their Sunday dinner in the same grandfathers parlor. Well into their adulthood and even their senior years, with minimal encouragement both Betty and Bonnie would "Shuffle Off to Buffalo," demonstrating their childhood dance act. Later, as members of the Central School Girls Tumbling Team, they performed during high school basketball halftime events. But Betty alone kept her audience rapt as she executed the walkovers from one end of Waseca Central High School gymnasium to the other. As majorettes, decked out in their tall white hats, high boots and short skirts, they led the high school marching band down State Street. tossing their batons in unison high into the air. To dress alike must have seemed routine for them as it was an expected part of their twin identity.
Betty loved sports and considered herself an avid fan. As a student, she sat by the radio with her father listening to the Waseca Central football team while carefully charting their progress play by play. Later. the Washington Huskys grabbed her attention. The family houseboat, where she served on many occasions as the nimble deck hand, galley chef (what a cook!), and card player extraordinaire, provided transportation over Lake Washington to the Husky football games and served as a floating tailgate for the pre-function function. Betty and Bob supported the Seattle Seahawks even through the bad-old-days and regularly attended Mariners games. Three days before her death, with Bob at her side, she savored her favorite chocolate candy and watched the Mariners beat the Kansas City Royals.
Betty loved her homes and turned no less than six of them into lovely cozy and comfortable nests. She held a degree in Interior Design from Bellevue Community College, but it was actually superfluous as her design instincts were solid and natural. She and Bob built the first three houses they lived in—two in Minneapolis and one overlooking the beautiful La Jolla sea. Moving to Seattle she tried her hand at remodeling, again transforming three homes. It was in their beloved log house, Stonegate Cottage, overlooking the Snoqualmie River in Fall City, where Betty and Bob lived out the last forty years of their life together. And what a life it was!
Always looking to each other first, Betty and Bobs devotion was obvious. Betty loved to tell the story of their meeting at Birds-Eye in Waseca where they both held summer employment. He walked me home, she would start, and halfway there he kissed me under the stars. Isnt he handsome, she would ask whomever happened to be near as she gazed upon his photograph which sat on her vanity. They had a fairy tale romance, never quite getting over their luck in finding one an-other. He supported her in whatever interests she might have at the time, and she supported him in a likewise fashion. They laughed at each others foibles, loving to retell their funny escapades. When they fished, Bob kept her line untangled and she put the worms on his hook.
Betty was predeceased by her parents Rodney G. Brown and Vera J. Brown, her sisters Margret Cliff and Bonnie Brown, and her two nephews Richard Cliff and Thomas Cliff. Forever remembered by her children: Mark Sheeran (Betsy), Kerie Kremian (Terry), Renee Sheeran and Conleth Sheeran Golob. Betty lives on in her seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren as well as the world-wide families that continue to document and expand her genealogy work.
A memorial Mass will be held for Bob and Betty on Friday, May 24, 2019 at 10:00 AM at Sacred Heart Catholic Church (111 4th St NW) in Waseca.
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