Lillian F. English, 92
Lillian F. English, of Syosset, N.Y., and Block Island, R.I., aka “One of the Shea Sisters”, died peacefully on July 15, 2018 at her home in Syosset. A wake was held at M.A. Connell Funeral Home, with a mass following at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Huntington, N.Y.
She was born in New York City on March 31, 1926, the daughter of John and Lillian Shea. It was soon after at the age of seven that she arrived on Block Island with her mother and older sister, Katie. After spending 85 consecutive summers on Block Island, the family thought, “If Lil couldn’t be on Block Island this summer, she decided to go to the other Heaven.”
Mrs. Lillian Shea, with daughters in tow, arrived each summer and rented at places across the island: The Oceanview Cottage, subsequently the Shamrock Inn, The Belleview on High Street, The Triplers, Brown Cottage on the Neck, and, lastly, with Shirley Smith on Ocean Avenue. The Shea family settled on Ocean Avenue in 1962. Mrs. Lillian Shea purchased the Dunn Property, naming the homestead Chez Bon Repos — house of good rest — and it has been to so many.
Lillian grew up and worked in and around New York and the Bronx. She was most proud of her time working for Mr. Rosenwald, as bookkeeper for his personal accounts. Lillian married later in life to Ed English of Syosset, NY. Ed and Lillian both loved family, good friends, and laughing. Their joy ended too soon when Ed died at work one day a few years after they were married.
As young single women on Block Island, Lillian and her sister Katie loved their carefree days on the beach knowing the evenings would be spent with friends at local hangouts: Pier 76, Yellow Kittens, Smuggler’s Cove and Dead Eye Dick’s, listening and dancing to the entertainment of Billy Stubs and others. Family fondly remembers the dinners at Ballard’s, Finn’s, The Spring House, brunch at the Kittens, clambakes on State Beach and fishing on the Act 1. In her later years, Lillian spent hours sitting on the porch at Chez Bon Repos watching the world go by and knowing she was surrounded by loving neighbors to the right, the Babcocks and to the left, the Fontaines. Lillian was happiest when the house was full of family and, although she was not able to join them at the beach or clamming or walking the trails of the island, as in her youth, she found great pride and joy in listening to the stories of the day as evening set in. As always, it was all about the people and family of Block Island.
For those of us she left behind there will always be the shared love and serenity of the island she adored, but it will forever be changed with her loss.
Chez Bon Repos will continue to fill every summer with Lillian’s “birth” family, the Metz/Fabry Clan and her “adopted” family, the Mahers. She and Katie wouldn’t want it any other way!
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Block Island Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department, P.O Box 781, Block Island, R.I. 02807.