Sheila (Nurse Byrne) remembered by family, friends and colleagues
The Western Star
During her decades of nursing, Sheila M. Byrne, affectionately referred to as Nurse Byrne in Stephenville, was known for making a person feel as if they were the most important person in the world.
That was one of the memories offered by Sheila (nee White) Trask, who delivered Byrne’s eulogy at her funeral on Friday, Aug. 9.
Trask got to know Nurse Byrne while she was her school nurse, as many in the community did. She said Nurse Byrne was the person everybody loved when they were growing up.
Trask said the reason people called her Nurse Byrne is because that’s who she was, not what she did.
“The reason I chose to write a book about her is because of how she lived her life,” she said.
Byrne’s granddaughter Jessica Shanahan said the biggest thing she had was a house full of love for anyone who dropped in.
A lot of her friends have significant good memories of an open door and food to go around.
“I’m 31 years old and I don’t think I fully appreciated her strength in raising a family of five kids on her own after her husband died. She was a rock for us and never showed any signs of the trials and tribulations she went through,” Shanahan said.
She said her grandmother had a genuine warmth and love and concern for others and made people feel significant and prioritized.
Shanahan knew her as her grandmother but learning of how she had an impact on people of all ages throughout her career and life has been special and eye opening for her.
Jannah Turpin, another granddaughter, said she was the ultimate grandmother who always wanted to know what was going on in the lives of her children and grandchildren, even into adulthood.
“She was just so thoughtful,” she said.
Byrne’s funeral mass had a lineup of nurses in white, people she had trained, on both sides of the aisle in the church as a tribute to her.
One of them, Irene Benoit, said Byrne was forever a professional nurse and a mentor to new nurses in training.
“She took you under her wing and she was the go-to person if you had a question,” Lorna Gale, another nurse, said. “A very gentle and kind lady and a beautiful person.”
Five qualities Nurse Sheila Byrne:
1. She was kind; kinder than any person I have ever known. She brought food to school so she could feed the children who might be hungry. She brought banana bread and juice to the prenatal classes she taught so the mothers-to-be would have a treat. She spoke kindly to everyone and treated people as if they were the most important person in the world. She reminds me of the quote “people may not remember what you did, but they will remember how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou
2. She was caring. She cared so much about others that she wouldn’t cheer for her own kids in sports because she didn’t want the kids from Integrated to feel bad. As she said to me, “I was their Nurse too.”
3. She was strong. She raised five children on her own after her husband passed. She worked. She played. She loved, not only her children but all children. She knew when to be stern and when to have fun; just because. I know she’s smiling proudly tonight as her children were her life and as she told me, “families need each other, whether they realize it or not.”
4. She was wise; wiser than most. She has an answer for everything. Everyone at school knew that the person who could answer your question wasn’t the teacher, it was Nurse Byrne.
5. Graceful. There is no woman who has ever lived more gracefully than Nurse Byrne. She was beautiful inside and out, and carried herself with so much grace. She dressed beautifully, spoke like a lady, and always kept herself in check, unless she thought someone was being wronged, then she would as she put it – overstep. She said gracefully, “I may have overstepped a bit.” So graceful, she never spoke an unkind word about anyone. She found the good in everyone and everything. She was a positive role model.
Source: From the eulogy delivered by Sheila (White) Trask.
Sheila M. Byrne:
• Died Aug. 5, 2019
• Predeceased by husband Frank Byrne of Corner Brook in 1963
• Predeceased by granddaughter Sarah in 2014.
• Predeceased by parents Alphonsus and Mary Smith of Harbour Breton.
• Predeceased by two brothers Samuel and William Smith.
• Left to mourn: Anne-Marie Byrne (Chris Turpin), Bay Roberts, NL; Kathyrn Byrne-Shanahan (Gerard Shanahan), Calgary, AB; Maureen Byrne (Rod Black), Scotland; Denise Byrne-LaSaga (Todd LaSaga), Ottawa, ON and Michael F. Byrne (Karen Learning), Ottawa, ON.
• Sadly missed by her five granddaughters: Jennah (James Canning) and Claire Turpin, Jessica Shanahan, and Kelsey and Emily Byrne; three great grandchildren- Rowan, Ellis and Grant Turpin-Russell.
Source: Russell’s Funeral Home