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Friday, October 13, 2017

SHEILA O'NEILL | Funeral – Oct. 13, 2017

Sheila Marlin O'Neill
1939-2017
Watford, UK, Oct. 13, 2017 – My sister Sheila's Funeral Mass was held today at St Saviour's Roman Catholic Church in Abbots Langley, Watford, Herts., UK – 17 miles northwest of London.


Father Richard officiated at the Mass and the Committal at the Crematorium.

Fr Richard Says Mass at St Saviour's.
Sheila attended the church while she was alive. 

She lived nearby at High Elms Manor.

She founded and was Principal of the High Elms Manor Montessori School. 

When she was considering buying the run-down manor, anyone with any familiarity with property management had the same negative reaction (the roof had long been leaking in many places, for example).

Sheila persisted, rounded up support from several reluctant sources including family, and bought it. Over the next two decades she has transformed it and left an astonishing legacy for the community.



Fr Richard prays for the soul of Sheila O'Neill.  Photos by JT Marlin.
Fr Richard closes inside and outer curtains at
the Crematorium. Goodbye Sheila, and to 72
 years of there being six living Marlin children.
Sheila's four daughters largely took over the school before she died, and also put the Manor to work as a location for conferences, weddings, film sets and other events. 

The transition was prompted by, and the subject of, episodes of a television series, "Country House Rescue," produced by Ruth Watson.

Despite the fact that Sheila had spent more on repairing and renovating High Elms Manor than she spent on purchasing it, Watson's advice was to spend even more, and she and her daughters did just that. The result is a gem of a school and community center.


Alan Jones and his wife (L) and Brigid (R).
The Funeral Mass began with readings by Sheila's grandchildren Zodiac Willoughby-O'Neill and Marnie Hilton-O'Neill. (A family tree that shows all seven grandchildren is here.) 
Randal (back to camera), Cliff and Lis.

The first reading was the second letter of St Paul to Timothy 4:6-8, followed by the favorite hymn, "The Lord's My Shepherd" and a reading from John's Gospel, 14:1-6.
L to R: Marnie (Roisin's eldest child)
and Phoenix (Catrine's older child).
Catrine is in back between them.

The Offertory hymn was "Jerusalem" and the recessional hymn was "This Little Light of Mine."

At the church Sheila's daughters – Roisin, Catrine, Liadain and Ailise – each read out a eulogy and at the Crematorium they read poems.


L to R: Zodiac Willoughby-O’Neill,Cian Hilton-O'Neill, Fin Hilton-O’Neill, Oscar Blanchard-O’Neill, Max Northcott. Back to camera: Brigid Marlin. Photo by JT Marlin.
At the Crematorium, Sheila's granddaughter Phoenix sang a song by Sarah McLachlan, accompanied by Jonathan Willoughby on the guitar.
Vojislav Mihailovic (friend of Sheila's
late husband Shane) and Chris Oakley.
Elaine (Randal's wife) and John.

Four of Sheila's five siblings were able to attend the funeral – Brigid, Randal (from Ottawa), John (from New York) and Lis. Olga, the eldest, was not able to travel from Kenya.

Sheila had many talents, more than she could fully utilize.


Three of the many pupils at the funeral
from the High Elms Montessori School.
Her thoughtful and well-constructed poem, "Look to the Stars," read by Liadain, describes her feelings near the end of her life when she was letting go of her attachments to the world she was leaving:

Look to the Stars

In letting go,
I have set myself free.
I ask, want for, nothing
You no longer hold me.

It's over, I'm content
Knowing you still breathe the air,
Enriching the universe
By just being there.

Stay soft and with compassion, remember me
Vulnerable, I carry the scars
Of earth, as pain and longing linger.
So – I will look to the stars!

And live on in the heavens
Where joy triumphs and reigns
With a love as pure as the angels.
There I will find you again.

Sheila's third book,
about Jacob the Goose.
At the reception at High Elms Manor, a copy of Sheila's third book, Jacob: The Famous Goose of the 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards, was waiting as a gift for everyone who came to the funeral.

Many of those who attended remembered me from the previous funeral at High Elms Manor, for my mother Hilda van Stockum.
Alex Mihailovic and Judy Vickery, at
the reception at High Elms Manor.

Among those was Judy Vickrey, who was a regular participant in the Friday noontime Writers Group that gathered in the HvS home.

L to R: Janet and brother Jonathan
Willoughby.
The group now convenes high up on the same street in Berkhamsted, at Brigid's house.

News Stories: Sheila's Retirement . Sheila's Death.

Other Posts: Sheila Marlin O'Neill, R.I.P.

Index by Name:

Abbots Langley
Blanchard-O’Neill, Oscar
Coldstream Guards
High Elms Manor
High Elms Montessori School
Hilton-O'Neill, Cian 
Hilton-O’Neill, Fin 
Jacob the Famous Goose
Marlin, Brigid
Marlin, Elaine O’Brien
Marlin, John Tepper
Marlin, Olga
Marlin, Randal
Marlin, Sheila
Mihailovic, Alex
Mihailovic, Angela
Mihailovic, Vojislav
Northcott, Max
O'Neill, Ailise
O'Neill, Catrine
O'Neill, Liadain
O'Neill, Roisin
O’Neill, Sheila Marlin
Paice, Cliff
Paice, Lis
St Saviour’s Church
van Stockum, Hilda
Vickery, Judy
Willoughby-O’Neill, Zodiac 
Willoughby, Janet
Willoughby, Jonathan

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