Sheila Marie (Garner) Simons was born at home on January 7, 1943 to parents, Katherine Louise McNeely and Ernest True Garner. Her fondest childhood memories were of the “40-acre farm” in Roann and of her grandmother Mary Etta (Tomlinson) Colbert of Wabash, IN. Sheila attended the Smith Family reunion in Wabash for decades, visiting her uncles, cousins, and friends. She never lost her love of country life and gardening.
Sheila also loved baking and cooking. She learned to make her daddy’s favorite cherry pie and won a blue ribbon at the county fair before she was twelve years old. She was a member of the Community of Christ church and believed love was most important part of life. She was a lifelong advocate for racial equality, LGTBQ+ inclusion, and dignity for all people.
Sheila graduated from Northeast High School in St. Petersburg, Florida in the class of 1961. She competed as a championship diver, and continued to swim for the next 40 years. She earned a professional certificate as a radiologist and worked at hospitals in Florida, Hawaii, and New Jersey throughout her career. After her children were grown, she spent years as a live-in caregiver.
In 1972, she wed Walter Pickering Simons. They raised two daughters in Dornsife, Pennsylvania and were married for 27 years. She loved being a mother and promoted education. Many other young people also found a meal and a “momma” at her house. She also loved her dogs, and was never without a canine companion. Many wagging tails will greet her again at heaven’s door.
Sheila also had a lifelong love of music and theatre. She performed with the Susquehanna Valley Players and won a Magnolia Award for the best debut performance of the 2003-04 season at Corinth Theatre Arts, in Corinth MS, as Ethel Banks in Neil Simon’s comedy Barefoot in the Park. She enjoyed travel, and never stopped seeking new experiences and enjoying performances from Broadway to Las Vegas.
Sheila passed from this world on November 27, 2020, while a resident of the Markle Health and Rehabilitation Center. She was preceded in death by her parents and grandparents, uncles Glenn McNeely and Sammie Colbert, her brother, Earnie Garner of Fort Collins, CO, niece, Dawn Rutledge, great-nephew Jon Batura, and her infant son, Thomas Walter Simons. She will be missed by her children, Mary Katherine “Katie” Davis (Andrew) of Chickasha, OK; April Louise Whistler (Jason) of Watsontown, PA; sisters Carolyn Dillon, Marilyn Garner, and Dr. Vikki French of Colorado, many nieces and nephews, and one grandson, Luke Andrew Davis.
There will be no public memorial service. In lieu of flowers, please make a gift to the Sheila Simons Theatre Scholarship at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, c/o USAO Foundation, 1727 West Alabama Avenue, Chickasha, OK, 73018.
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