Vivian Young Sheehan, 86, of Greenport passed away May 30, 2015, in her home in Peconic Landing.
The family will receive visitors Thursday June 11, from 4 to 7 p.m. at Defriest-Grattan Funeral Home in Southold. Her funeral service will be held at St. Agnes R. C. Church in Greenport Friday, June 12, at 10 a.m.
Vivian was a New York native who attended Sacred Heart Academy in Sag Harbor and graduated from Marymount School and Marymount Manhattan College. The only child of an Irish immigrant builder and a New York career teacher, she married the late John P. Sheehan in 1951. They raised seven children, and lived in 12 cities and six states during their 52-year marriage. In each new city, she developed strong friendships, advocated for her children’s education and opportunities and looked for ways to encourage the family to appreciate a different place, new people and experiences. She made the nightly family dinner a free-for-all of ideas, and experiences, where even the youngest child competed enthusiastically for air time and the chance to challenge others’ opinions.
Upon retirement in 1982, Vivian and John returned to Sag Harbor for 20 years, where she was elected to Sag Harbor Union Free School District school board. On the school board, she was known for her insistence on her close scrutiny of budgets and the need for good stewardship and accountability for the education of Sag Harbor’s students. She also served on the board of the Friends of John Jermain Library. She was the inspiration for an oral history project called Voices of Sag Harbor, which was edited by Nina Tobier, and helped put together lists of longtime village residents with Kathy Miller for interviews.
Her father’s immigrant experience and stories, and her family’s experience as newcomers in so many communities and schools gave Vivian an appreciation of both the contributions and the challenges immigrants face. She was passionate about the value immigrants bring to our communities, and for providing the welcome, services, and support to help them succeed in their chosen country.
Vivian will be remembered for two other things: her knowledge and enthusiasm for the visual arts, and her directness in speaking up to authority for doing the right thing. She taught generations of grade school students in the Philadelphia area through the “Art Goes to School Program” of Philadelphia Museum of Art, served as a docent at Parish Art Museum in Southampton, was active in organizing exhibits and trips for the art committee at Peconic Landing, and taught many popular art appreciation classes for fellow residents of Peconic Landing. Throughout her life, people would come to her about things they believed were wrong, but were uncomfortable raising themselves. They knew she would speak up thoughtfully and effectively. She raised her children to be the same way.
Vivian is survived by her children, James G.(Cathy) Sheehan of Cohoes, N.Y., Barbara A. Sheehan of Philadelphia, Pa., Maureen E. Sheehan of Greenwich, Conn., Timothy J. Sheehan of Austin, Texas, Brendan P.(Barbara) Sheehan of Leavenworth, Kan., Robert Y. Sheehan of Austin, TX and Andrew B. Sheehan of Cedar Park, Texas, as well as 13 grandchildren, and four stepgrandchildren. A grandson, Joseph P. Sheehan, preceded her in death.
Vivian’s family asks that gifts in her memory be directed to East End Hospice and Community Action Southold Town (CAST).
This is a paid notice.