Sheila O’Brien McCollam, 83

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 9:30pm
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Sheila O’Brien McCollam, age 83, of Bethel, Conn., and Block Island, R.I., died peacefully at home on Friday, Oct. 6 with her family by her side. She was predeceased by her husband of 52 years, Charles “Chad” McCollam Jr.

Sheila was born on May 15, 1934, the daughter of the late Francis O’Brien and Margaret (Colgan) O’Brien. She grew up in Rowayton, Conn., and attended local schools. She was a member of the first class of women attending the Chestnut Hill, Mass. campus of Boston College, graduating in 1956. 

She taught kindergarten at the Byram School, Greenwich, Conn., for several years until the birth of her first child. She subsequently embraced and excelled at her full time role of wife and mother to her growing family. 

Sheila was an active volunteer as a CCD teacher, Girl Scout Troop leader and school librarian during her children’s youth. She was a smiling face at decades of Bethel Democratic Town Committee events, a friendly and efficient poll checker for dozens of elections, and consummate hostess.

A summer resident of Block Island for 50 years, Sheila loved nothing more than sharing the wonders of the island with family and friends. She delighted in the wildflowers, fresh seafood, walks on the beach, and rides around the island. She especially loved sharing the adventures of her grandchildren as they discovered the treasures of the ocean, the beauty of sunsets, and the joy of living on an island.

A kind and gentle soul and a lover of animals, she will be missed by all who knew her.

Mrs. McCollam is survived by her six children; Erin McCollam Bilski (Gary), Colleen McCollam, Meghan O’Connor, Christopher McCollam (Laurel), Moira McCollam (Mary), Brendan McCollam (Erin), and 14 grandchildren; Alex McCollam (Daria), Brendan, Colin, and Devin Bilski, Colgan O’Connor, Hannah, Brigid, Madeline, and Garrett McCollam, Maeve, Norah, and Claire McCollam, and Aidan and Mairin McCollam-Fox, and two great-grandchildren; Lukas and Hazel McCollam. She is also survived by her brother, Brian O’Brien of Rialto, Calif., and her sister-in-law in name, sister in heart, Mary Gert McCollam of Bethel. 

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Thursday, Oct. 12 at St. Mary Church, 24 Dodgingtown Road, Bethel. Burial followed in St. Mary Cemetery in Bethel. 

Memorial Contributions in lieu of flowers may be made to The Mary D. Fund, PO Box 323 Block Island, R.I. 02807, or to Saint Mary School Annual Fund, 24 Dodgingtown Road, Bethel, Conn. 06801.