This week The Chronicle lost a member of its extended family. Sheila Smith was a longtime advertising manager who helped grow the newspaper during the 1980s and '90s, a time when the publication was finding its niche and establishing itself as an indispensable part of the local community. Sheila helped the paper do that because she was an indispensable part of the community. She spent most of her youth in Orleans, graduating from Orleans High School, and was active in the Chatham Merchants Association and chamber of commerce during her years at The Chronicle. She seemed to know everyone in town, connections that served her well professionally as well as in her family life with her husband, Preston, and three daughters.
At the office, Sheila was something of a den mother, mentoring new sales representatives and keeping tabs on everyone's comings and goings. Not the sort to take “fine” as an answer to a question like “how was your weekend,” she could be a sympathetic listener or a stern supervisor, though even with the latter she always showed a sense of humor. Even after she retired from advertising sales, Sheila continued to spend one day a week at The Chronicle, greeting the public, answering the phones and chatting with the staff about her family and beloved pets.
We will miss all those things about her, but mostly will miss the energy, optimism and sense of caring she brought to everything she did and everyone she encountered. Her death, less than two months after the passing of her husband, is a sad occasion, but also an opportunity to celebrate a woman who helped make our jobs and lives richer, happier and more fun.