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Cecelia "Sheila" Nolan

August 30, 1938 ~ September 30, 2018 (age 80)

Cecelia "Sheila" Nolan, 80, of Naples, beloved wife of John G. "Jack" Nolan passed away in her sleep on Sunday, the 30th of September, at Avow Hospice following a year-long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Sheila was born in Ireland in 1938, the sixth of ten children of the late Michael and Margaret McHugh of County Mayo. She is survived by her husband of 45 years, Jack, five-step children: Gregory Nolan of Las Vegas NV, Catherine Caminiti of Piermont, NY, John T. Nolan of Los Angeles CA, Michael Nolan of Ocean City, NJ, and Patrick Nolan of Las Vegas NV; six sisters: Sister Mary McHugh, and Sister Kathleen McHugh of Dublin, Bridget Proulx of Woodbury CT, Peggy Munster of Wimbledon, England, Helen Murphy and Bennie Macken of County Mayo; one brother, William McHugh of Myrle Beach SC; four grandchildren and several nieces and nephews. 

Sheila came to the U.S. in 1956. Upon arrival she went to work as an entry level clerk at the Travelers Insurance Company in Hartford, CT. While employed she attended Hartford College. During her 27 years with the Travelers, she rose to be an administrative manager in the Large Group Division and traveled around the U.S. representing the Travelers in helping to establish various administrative procedures.

Jack and Sheila were married in 1973 and lived in Farmington, CT until 1984 when Jack was transferred to Illinois. Sheila then left the Travelers and started a new phase of life. Never an idle person, she co-mingled volunteering, enjoying music and the arts, traveling with Jack and as she would say “playing bad golf.” In her first year playing golf on a regular basis she lowered her handicap by 14 strokes and was named her club’s Most Improved Player by Golf Digest. When Sheila arrived in Illinois she declined an administrative position with the Little Sisters of the Poor in Palatine IL and instead volunteered to work in their laundry folding “knickers.” She also worked for several years as a Hospice Volunteer at the Barrington Chapter of the Hospice of Illinois, a very demanding and emotionally draining job. She served a term as Chairman of the Lady Golfers at Inverness Golf Club and was a member of the Board of Directors of the Chicago Women’s Golf Association, a position that enabled her to take Jack to the 1997 Masters in Augusta where Tiger Woods won his first major championship.

She was a member of the Barrington Chapter of the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She enjoyed many operas in Chicago as well as many performances of the Chicago Symphony. She was a regular visitor of the Chicago Art Institute and traveled with their sponsored cruises through the Greek Isles and the Baltic. The Baltic cruise gave Sheila the opportunity to spend a few days at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. Russia.

Upon Jack’s retirement, the Nolans spent two winters in Naples and decided to move here permanently. In 2001, they built their home in Fiddlers Creek where again in Sheila’s words she could continue to not only to play “bad golf” but start to play “bad bridge” as well.

When Jack would ask her want she might want as a gift for her birthday, their anniversary, Christmas, etc. she would say “Don’t buy me anything, just take me somewhere”. And take her he did. In the twenty years following his retirement, he and Sheila visited more than 30 countries and enjoyed so many memorable times together.
Amongst her favorites were:

  • Playing golf in Scotland at 6:30 a.m. on a cold, damp day on the Old Course at St. Andrews; walking through the heather on The Kings Course at Gleneagles; and fighting the wind on the Aisla Course at Turnberry.
  • Enjoying highlights of her visit to Beijing, including a walk up the Great Wall of China, a stroll around The Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square where she towered over the local Chinese and then devouring Peking duck at the famous Quanjude Restaurant.
  • Traveling through France, visiting The Louvre in Paris and so many city attractions, tasting wines in Beaune, the capital of Burgundy and tasting grapes by reaching through the iron bars protecting them at the Domaine de la Romanee Conti vineyard. (“Sacrilege!” warned Jack); and finally visiting St. Tropez and Nice and driving on the Grande Corniche and down the hazardous hairpin road to Monaco.
  • Riding the rack railway to the summit of Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro to gaze at and pray before the statue of Christ the Redeemer. Then at the end of the day, to enjoy watching and listening to thousands of marchers for hours while celebrating “CARNIVAL.”
  • Reliving her ski adventures in the Laurentian mountains north of Montreal (where she met Jack), throughout the mountains in Vermont, at Aspen and Vail in Colorado and most specifically skiing at Squaw Valley, CA. where despite warnings that the trail known as “Immigrant Peak” was a black diamond trail, i.e., for expert skiers, Sheila said that since she was an immigrant that trail was meant to be skied by her. And she did so very cautiously.

Shared here are excerpt from some of the many notes sent to Jack upon their receiving the news of Sheila’s passing:

  • “My best memories of Sheila were that she was a woman with countless energy, willing to engage in every kind of mischief, enjoying caring for others, facing any trying times and always with a smile on her face.”
  • “She brought a lot of happiness to those who knew her.”
  • “When I think of Sheila, I can always feel her great smile, her kindness and her great love for Jack.”
  • “Sheila was probably the kindest person I ever met. One day, while she was driving in Maui on the road to Hana, she stopped along the way to give her apples to a construction guy who she thought looked hungry. She phoned me when my Dad died, although I hardly knew her at that point, but she made the call and made me feel better.”
  • "I have the most wonderful memories of her and her vivacious, exuberant, generous, wise personality. She was a gorgeous example to me and I would be lucky even to exhibit a piece of her love for life, humor, family and friends.”
  • “She was such a wonderful person. I loved her sense of humor and her kindness."
  • "She will be greatly missed.”
  • “Sheila was a very special person to me and I will always remember the beautiful inner light she radiated despite her illness and its challenges.”
  • “She was, even in disease progression, such a sweet and caring person. She will be in our prayers.”

And as a final example of her feisty sense of humor, when someone asked her if she was Irish, she answered: “I AM, BUT IT’S NOT MY FAULT.”

A memorial service will be held at San Marco Catholic Church, Marco Island on Friday, October 19th, 10AM.
Contributions may made on in Sheila's memory to the Alzheimer’s Research Association or Avow Hospice of Naples.


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