Obituary of Sheila Elizabeth CONLIN
1955 – 2021 Died Sunday 21 February 2021 Sheila was a talented and fascinating woman, yet she tended to downplay her accomplishments while drawing out those of others. She was thoughtful, generous, curious and idealistic. But also humble. She worked hard to make the world a better place and did not need credit for the effort. Sheila grew up in and around Newmarket. She always enjoyed the rolling countryside of southern Ontario. But she was no stranger to wilder and more distant places, having traveled in Europe, the Middle East, and throughout the Americas. She loved to explore any town or city, with an eye out for the best bakeries and unpretentious restaurants with awesome food. Interest in the wider world inspired a lifelong interest in language, particularly French and Spanish. Wherever she was in the world, she sought out the wilderness. She loved the windswept beaches of Tofino, and the rigors of hiking in the Rockies. She hiked the West Coast Trail, the East Coast Trail, the famous “Q” in Torres del Paine in Patagonia, and the Camino de Santiago, just to name a few highlights. She paddled extensively, from serious multi-week treks with Outward Bound, to more sedate trips in Algonquin, Temagami and countless lakes and rivers (and 2 oceans). She biked thousands of kilometres in cities all over the world, and did major cycling trips on the East coast, in Quebec and in Ontario. Winter didn’t slow her down, she was an excellent skier and would happily head out on snowshoes at the slightest suggestion. In recent years she devoted herself to becoming a better skater. With a degree in English Literature under her belt, Sheila trained as a teacher, later adding a Masters in Social Work. Teaching suited her temperament and she loved working with kids, especially in her capacity as a special education teacher. She was adept at finding just the right activities to help students thrive. Building community was a preoccupation, both professionally and personally. She was an enthusiastic collaborator, sharing resources and time with her colleagues, and organizing school-wide events like a poetry slam or a candle-lit walk to celebrate the winter solstice. A dedicated reader of local arts news, Sheila always made time for live concerts, theatre, exhibitions, or whatever interesting urban experiences were on offer. She wanted to form connections and share knowledge and interests – many will recall Sheila suggesting a movie, a restaurant or bakery, a place to hike, a recipe or a book. Sheila took care of family, friends, neighbours and strangers. The house she owned with Luke was initially purchased because she wanted a place with an apartment for her mother. Latterly her sister Ann and husband Bryce came to live under the same roof on Sheila’s invitation. Likewise, Sheila would do anything to help her niece Meaghan and was so pleased that Meaghan is now settled and secure in her own place. Friends and neighbours were always welcome and always well fed. Thanks to Sheila’s initiative a refugee family from Iraq was successfully settled in Toronto. She never stopped wanting to give of herself. The soul of kindness and generosity, her one regret was that she had not, in her estimation, done enough to help others. Sheila died as she had hoped, peacefully and at home. In spite of many years coping with disease, she remained positive, hopeful, and eager to make the best of things. She leaves her husband Luke Wintjes, her sister Ann Krochter, many other family members and dear friends. A funeral Mass was held in Toronto on February 24th. Burial will take place when the ground thaws in Caledon, likely late March, early April. A memorial event will be arranged when it becomes possible. (Check for updates here, or contact Luke for details.) Because the pandemic has prohibited gathering, please share words, photos or memories on the Tribute Wall, or contact Luke with a private message. In memory of Sheila, donations may be made to any charity you care about. She supported Doctors Without Borders, the Daily Bread Food Bank, and St. Peter’s Church in Toronto, among many others. But she never wanted to tell anyone what they should do! In Memoriam Funeral Services Inc. has been given the honour to serve the Wintjes and Krochter families.