Thomas Wellman Sheehy, 96, a former Baker County resident, died Jan. 8, 2007, at Riverside Nursing Home in Missoula, Mont.
Funeral Mass took place this morning at St. Katherine’s Catholic Church in Enterprise. Interment followed at the Wallowa Cemetery.
Tom was born Jan. 14, 1910, in Great Falls, Mont., the son of Hugh F. and Helen Holbrook Sheehy. He moved with his family in 1917 to Oregon, where they ranched at Durkee. Tom graduated in 1927 from McLoughlin High School in Milton-Freewater.
He served with the U.S. Navy from 1932 to 1936, assigned to the battleship USS Nevada (BB-36). Returning to serve during World War II, Tom participated in the Alaska campaign at Kodiak and Attu islands, and during the Okinawa campaign he was an Advance Handling Party member. He attained the rate of Chief Storekeeper before being discharged in October 1945.
Tom and Mary Margaret Black were married Aug. 19, 1941, in Baker City. They had five children. A lifelong rancher and stockman, Tom raised his family on ranches in the Baker City and Ontario areas. In 1974 he and Mary Margaret moved to Wallowa, where he continued to ranch. Upon Mary Margaret’s death in 2001, he moved to the Missoula area to reside with his son.
A man with a deep love for language, Tom published a book of poetry at the age of 89 featuring his original verse and illustrations. This poetry, written after his retirement from ranching, demonstrates his rich understanding of human nature gleaned from personal experience and anecdotes. His poems are infused not only with this insight, but with the humor that he brought to every aspect of his life. A self-taught scholar, Tom’s primary entertainment came from learning – whether through the discussion of his favorite poems or the explanation of a word’s origin. Every subject held interest, and he strove to acquire and impart a comprehensive command of his native language.
Tom was an avid outdoorsman, and the highlight of each year was the pack trip into the wilderness area with his children, which gave him the opportunity to pass on his love and respect for the outdoors. A strong supporter of his community, Tom was an active member of his Catholic parish, and a member of the Grange.
Tom is survived by his children: Tom and his wife, Lanier, Mary Jane and her husband, Barney Eidson, Dennis and his wife, Marcia, Hugh and his wife, Barbara, and Margaret Ann and her husband, Steve Hoffman; his sister, Mary; a brother, Richard and his wife, Darlene; and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Tom was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Margaret; his sisters, Helen and Ruth; and his brothers, Hugh and Robert.
Contributions in Tom’s memory may be made to Partners Hospice, 2687 Palmers Street, Suite B, Missoula, MT, 59808, or to Wallowa Memorial Hospital, 401 NE First St., Wallowa, OR 97885.
Used with permission from: Baker City Herald, Baker City, Oregon, January 19, 2007
Transcribed by: Belva Ticknor