In Memory of Sheila Rodney

July 4, 2023 / 5 mins read

When current TanenbaumCHAT grandparent, Dr. Richard Rodney was looking for a way to honour the memory of his late wife Sheila Rodney z”l, endowing the new Student Leadership Award seemed like a perfect fit.

Why did you establish this award in honour of Sheila Rodney?

Our family felt that the Student Leadership Award was the perfect way to honour Sheila’s memory as she loved to learn and share her extensive knowledge through travel, education and life experiences with those around her.

Tell us a little about her life.

Sheila was born in St.Thomas, Ontario in 1942 to Fred and Clara Abbey. After a few years in London, Ontario, the family moved to Toronto when Sheila was 12. There, she met her future husband, Rick, at Harbord Collegiate when she was just 15 years old. They both attended the University of Toronto – Sheila in an Arts program and Rick in Dentistry.

To help make ends meet as Rick finished dental school, Sheila left U of T and took a job at the Toronto Star. They married in 1964 and went to Puerto Rico for their honeymoon, the first time either of them had been on a plane. Thus began their passion for traveling the world and learning all they could about different cultures, religions, foods, and Jewish history.

In 1967, their son, Brian, was born followed by their daughter, Karen, in 1971. Once her children were old enough, Sheila returned to work as a bookkeeper for Rick’s dental practice. Then, in 1982, she became Executive Secretary of the Toronto chapter of the Alpha Omega Dental Fraternity. She held that position for 28 years, and she loved every minute of it.

Sheila and Rick were blessed with three grandchildren – current TanenbaumCHAT students, Jonah ’24 and Jaelyn ’26, and Willow. Sheila spent as much time with them as possible and they became the loves of her life.

Sheila and Rick were members of Beth Tikvah Synagogue for over 50 years. They were both very involved in the community, attending shul, seminars and events. They had a passion for charitable giving and several years ago created the Richard & Sheila Rodney Family Fund at the Jewish Foundation to assist in these endeavors, and to allow their children and grandchildren to carry their legacy forward.

Sheila had many health issues in her later years but that never stopped her from traveling and being with those she loved. Suddenly and unexpectedly, after 57 years of marriage, Sheila passed away as she approached her 80th birthday. Her memory is a blessing to all.

Tell us about the family connection to TanenbaumCHAT

Having a Jewish identity and connection to the community was very important to Sheila, and watching her grandchildren thrive in Jewish day school meant so much to her. Being able to recognize other students for their leadership and dedication through this award would have made her so proud.