Framingham – Sheila M. (Aikens) Barrows, 91 died on Sunday, April 2, 2023 at Brookdale in Framingham after a short illness following a stroke.
Sheila was born in Pittsburgh, PA on April 6, 1931, the daughter of the late Alexander and Dorothy (Holloway) Aikens. When Sheila was six months old her British parents returned the family to England. As a child, she lived through World War II and spent a portion of the war in London with her family during the Blitz. To take up her American citizenship, she emigrated to Philadelphia in 1953 to work at the University of Pennsylvania. She soon moved to the Washington, D.C. area, where she worked at the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Library of Congress, and Resources for the Future, among other organizations. Later, she became an editor for various journals and periodicals at the Helen Dwight Reid Educational Foundation.
In mid-life, Sheila earned a BA in psychology from George Mason University, and indulged in a year of postgraduate study of poetry, having poems accepted for publication in Phoebe and Hiram Poetry Review. She parlayed her lifelong love of doodling into studying painting, enjoying success with watercolor, acrylic, and oil. An accomplished painter, she painted in France, Italy, Denmark, Greece, Mexico, and Canada, and across the United States. Choral singing enriched her life starting at age 16. She sang for decades with the Cathedral Choral Society at Washington National Cathedral in Washington DC, including participating in performances associated with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963.
Sheila always worked as a volunteer – including work with FLOC (For Love of Children), The League of Women Voters, Fairfax Girls Probation House, The Torpedo Factory, and a variety of schools and Unitarian churches. After retiring as Managing Editor of Arts Education Policy Review, Sheila, who started studying the piano when she was eight, took pedagogy courses and became a piano teacher with students aged from eight to 73.
Sheila is survived by a daughter, Alison Barrows Ronn and her husband Matthew Ronn of Boylston, MA, a son, Alexander Barrows and his partner Danita Dickinson of Pagosa Springs, CO, five grandchildren – Parker Ronn, Mason Ronn, Evan Ronn, Alethea Barrows, Neil Barrows – and numerous members of her Aikens and Barrows/Shepard extended family. She was predeceased by her much-loved brother, Neil Aikens. She was a great friend and leaves behind many wonderful friends who grieve her loss.
An in-person memorial service will be held May 13th, 10 am at First Unitarian Church, 90 Main St., Worcester, MA. (Contact the church or the family for a link if you prefer to watch the service online.)
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a memorial donation to a cause that Sheila would have supported or consider the Timothy J. Houston Memorial Fund at the Greater Worcester Community Foundation (https://greaterworcester.fcsuite.com/erp/donate/create?funit_id=1432) which supports music lessons for children.
Arrangements are by the John Everett & Sons Funeral Home, 4 Park St., NATICK COMMON.
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