Laurentian Valley's Jim Sheedy remembered as a devoted family man and a passionate community advocate

Jim Sheedy smiles as he is sworn in as councillor in Laurentian Valley following the 2014 municipal election, the last time he ran for office. After an amazing 43 years of service in municipal politics, Sheedy resigned in 2016 for health reasons. He passed away on Sunday, March 10. 2019 in his 82nd year at the Pembroke Regional Hospital. Sarah Hyatt / Observer and News file photo

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Laurentian Valley and area has lost one of its most devoted and beloved community leaders with the passing of Jim Sheedy.

The municipal politician, community advocate, sports enthusiast, volunteer, real estate agent, trucker, husband, friend, father and mentor died suddenly March 10 at the Pembroke Regional Hospital with his family by his side. He was in his 82nd year.

“On behalf of my brothers and sisters, we so appreciate all the kind words and gestures – from the Laurentian Valley council and staff flying their flag at half mast to the tribute at the Lumber Kings’ game, we are overwhelmed,” said Kevin Sheedy, one of Jim’s six children.

In 1957 “Jimmy” was encouraged by his parents to show a calf at the Ottawa Winter Fair, which he did, taking top spot and winning $1,000 for his efforts. He went on to study agriculture in college. Submitted photo

Jim Sheedy was born on June 27, 1937 in Osceola. He was the oldest child of Rita (Mulligan) and Greggory Sheedy, his only sibling being Ritsy McGuire. He was born with a cleft palate and being as it was 1937, it was a miracle that he even survived. His mother Rita patiently fed him milk-soaked bread pieces with an eye dropper.

Shelley Sheedy, Kevin’s wife, said that Jim not only survived but flourished in this loving family and the close knit community around Osceola.

The Sheedy family speaks of the time that Jim’s parents, Gregg and Rita, encouraged their young son to show a calf at the Winter Fair. Jim travelled all the way to Ottawa to do so, winning first prize of a $1,000 which, of course, was a lot of money in 1957.

It was at Cobden high school that Jim met the love of his life, the beautiful and athletic Marie Code from Forresters Falls. It is said it took some teasing and cajoling but Marie finally agreed to a date with the young Jim Sheedy which proved to be the start of a long and wonderful life together.

Following high school, Jim attended Kemptville College to study agriculture. It was there he met a teacher that encouraged him to set big goals, something he practiced throughout his life.

Marie Sheedy (Cote) Submitted photo

While he was away in college, Marie attended the Lorrain School of Nursing in Pembroke. When their schooling was completed, the couple opted to move to Ottawa as Jim had gotten a job at the Agricultural Farm. It didn’t take long for the couple to discover that city living did not suit their taste and they moved to Pembroke.

The couple had six children: Jeff (Barbara Lynn), Michael (Shelley), Kevin (Shelley), Connie (late Todd), Steven (Penny) and Lisa.

 

Jim worked as a truck driver while Marie worked at the then Pembroke General Hospital, eventually becoming the evening supervisor.

The couple still found time for family, friends, and each other. As a sports fan and devoted family man, Jim coached most of his children in baseball or hockey.

Rob Hickson said Jim was his peewee hockey coach on the same team that featured Jim’s kids Jeff and Michael.

“He made sure we had exhibition games against other Valley and Pontiac teams. It was the most fun hockey year I experienced. Jim was a good story teller with a hardy laugh to follow it.”

In the 1970s Jim entered the world of municipal politics first being elected as a councillor in the former Stafford Township in 1973.

Known to many in the area as a real estate agent, that was Jim Sheedy’s second big career. For the first few decades of his adult life, “Jimmy” was a trucker. Submitted photo

He went on to serve as the reeve of Stafford township for six years, sitting as a member of Renfrew County Council. He represented the councils at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and the Rural Ontario Municipalities Association (ROMA).

 

Following municipal amalgamation he served on council in Laurentian Valley, ending his incredible political career in 2016 as a councillor in Laurentian Valley after 43 years of municipal service in which he helped countless people.

“Jim was a good buddy,” said Laurentian Valley Mayor Steve Bennett. “I have so much for respect for him and all that he did. He did so much with this life.”

Bennett said that he not only considered Jim Sheedy to be a good friend but also a mentor through the years.

“He had a passion for council and such a passion for his community. We’d have coffee in restaurants sometimes and talk and he could be opinionated but had such a great sense of humour. We had some good discussions over the years. We weren’t that social but I did spend a lot of time with him during and in between council meetings. Jim was an amazing person and a good friend.”

Back in 1986 Jim sought a career change, returning to school to get his real estate license. He continued this vocation until he retired in 2014. Sadly, that same year he lost his beloved wife Marie.

Marie and Jim Sheedy and pose for a photo with their 11 grandchildren. Submitted photo

Jim and Marie loved spending time with their 11 grandchildren – Brandan, Scott, Rebecca, Krysten, Brian, Lyndsay, Malachy, Travis, Gregg, Shannon and Molly.

Widely respected and admired in the municipality, Jim Sheedy was honoured by Laurentian Valley Township in 2016 when it named the lane that leads into Stafford Park “Jim Sheedy Way” in his honour.

When Jim resigned from council for health reasons in 2016, former councillor George Hodgkinson who had served with Jim in the past was approved to fill that seat.

“I have had the privilege of serving on Laurentian Valley council with Jimmy, and can attest to his strong commitment to serving his community. I enjoyed the time that we spent together. A man of integrity, compassion, and humour. Rest in peace Jim,” Hodgkinson said.

In August of 2018, Jim moved into Miramichi Lodge in Pembroke.

His family said it is most appreciative of the wonderful staff at Miramichi Lodge and to Dr. Gauthier, who all took good care of him.

Jim’s family shared with the Observer a message it received about Jim that the members feel sums Jim’s passing up the best.

“I do not believe that I would be able to find anyone in our community who does not have their own story to share regarding Jim Sheedy. Being a Pembroke native, I can’t think of a time when his name and face was not front and center in promoting the community at large. I have a personal recollection of ‘Jimmy’ that occurred at the PMC one Saturday afternoon, where he intervened on behalf of myself and a group of my friends to allow us some extra ice time post a skating practice. It’s funny as a kid, the things that stick with you, but that certainly did. As much as he will be missed as a politician and community advocate, I’m sure it pales in comparison to the loss felt by Jim’s family,” the message read.

From the Regional Silver Stick Committee to families that he helped purchase a home, many are leaving tributes to Jim Sheedy online.

Dustin and Karen Zohr said Jim was a wonderful man who never allowed anything to stand in his way. “He was proud of his community, thankful for his success, and he most definitely loved his family,” the couple wrote in tribute.

A member of the ‘Roy Street Gang,’ Catherine Treboutat, called Jim a “true gem of a person” and described Jim and his wife Marie as “angels.”

Nancy Shamess said Jim and Marie were “salt of the earth people” and that Jim possessed an open and generous heart.

Wayne Lavigne described Jim as, “one of the finest gentleman I have had the pleasure of knowing.”

The Sheedy family is receiving relatives and friends at the Neville Funeral Home in Pembroke Thursday, March 14 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday, March 15 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and again from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Funeral services will take place on Saturday, March 16 at 10:30 a.m. at The Church of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, 284 Trafalgar Rd., Pembroke. Interment will be at St. Columba’s Cemetary on TV Tower Rd.

A reception will follow back at the church.

Donations are being accepted for Miramichi Lodge.

ADixon@postmedia.com

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