Obituary of Sheila Marie Hearne
Sheila Marie Hearne
Daughter, Wife, Mother, Nana, Friend
Veteran, Entrepreneur, Professor,
Child of God.
She was good. Her life was full.
Sheila Marie Hearne, age 59, of McLean, VA passed away in her sleep on Sunday, April 30, 2023, in St. Petersburg, FL where she was a Visiting Professor of Political Science at the University of South Florida. Born October 6, 1963, she was the daughter of Wilma J. Mitchell of Chambersburg, PA. The stepsister of Brian (Penny) Mitchell, Lori (Dennis) Odom, Kevin (Marie) Mitchell, and Matthew Mitchell. She was preceded in death by her stepfather William Mitchell, her father Theodore A. Sheets and her brother Christopher A. Sheets. Sheila was the loving wife of Gregory Hearne for 39 years and mother to their five children: John (Esther) Mills-Hearne, Meggan (Stephen) Edwards, Joshua (Laura) Hearne, Mercedes Ferraro, Mikayla Hearne and nine grandchildren, with the tenth expected in October.
Sheila graduated from McConnellsburg High School in 1981 and entered the U.S . Air Force shortly afterward. She completed training as an Intelligence Analyst in Texas. Her first duty assignment was at Clark Air Base on Luzon Island in the Philippines. While on this assignment she became the first fully flight-qualified female in the Electronic Security Command to fly missions aboard MC-130 aircraft in Southeast Asia. It was in the Philippines where she met herfuture husband, who was also in the U.S . Air Force stationed in Osan, Korea. In 1983, she was stationed at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas. They were married in 1984 and later that year, she transferred to the Air Force Reserve and they moved to just outside Washington DC in Fort Washington, Maryland, where they lived on the Potomac River in a houseboat until they started having children.
Sheila worked for the Naval Air Systems Command until 1987 when she founded her first company Computeristics, Inc., which provided systems training and software development services to commercial clients. During this time, she also worked on completing her Bachelor of Science degreein Business Administration at the University of Maryland.
In 1989, as the Berlin Wall was coming down, Sheila and her husband decided they wanted to live in Germany during this historic period. In December of that year, they moved to Stuttgart, Germany where Sheila worked for the Defense Information Systems Agency at Patch Barracks. They had three children at that point ranging from three months to four years old. One of her favorite exploration trips during that period was a bus tour she took with some friends to Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, just after the borders opened for travel. She spent days exploringthe Cathedrals and religious sites in the city. It was a pastime that remained with her for her entirelife. Years later she returned to explore the restoration done to many of those magnificent places.
The family stayed in Germany until 1992 when they moved to Cambridgeshire, England where Sheila took a position in the Education Office at RAF Alconbury. This job gave her the freedom to complete a Master of Public Administration degree with Troy University. During their time in Germany and England, Sheila and her family traveled extensively across Europe. One of her favorite pastimes became visiting Cathedrals in all the major cities. At the end of 1994, they returned to the U.S . and moved to McLean, VA.
In 1995, Sheila and her husband founded The OakHill Group which provided specialized engineering services to various government agencies. At the same time, Sheila was accepted into a doctoral program at George Mason University. While studying she was still the Chief Financial Officer for The OakHill Group, was a Girl Scout leader and a member of the school Board at St John Academy Catholic school in McLean where her children attended.
In 1999, Sheila had her youngest child and at the same time started proceedings to adopt her godson who lived in England at the time. Over the next several years, she raised their children, oversaw the business operations at The OakHill Group and completed her Doctorate in Public Policy. Following its completion, she became an Adjunct Professor at George Mason and then later took a position at Marymount University. In 2007, Sheila and her husband sold The Oakhill Group. This afforded Sheila the opportunity to focus on her passion for academic pursuits and international travel. She could possibly hold a record for the number of Cathedrals she visited. In 2010, she took an adjunct position at Gettysburg College where she remained for seven years.
In 2012, Sheila and her husband started a non-profit Foundation called A Connected Planet. Sheila was the Chief Executive Officer and Director of the Board. The Foundation’s mission is to provide policy planning and technical assistance to enable information sharing, education, and medical services in developing countries. For several years, their focus area was the Republic of Haiti where the Foundation maintained an apartment/office until COVID-19 and internal violence precluded travel. Sheila loved spending time in Port-au-Prince and the city of Hinche, where the Foundation worked with Catholic schools implementing digital education programs. She continued supporting work in Haiti remotely, most recently directing a digital education policy study for the World Bank.
In 2020, Sheila and her husband began spending part of the year in St. Petersburg, FL. She continued running the Foundation and this year accepted a Visiting Professor position at the University of South Florida (USF). She thoroughly enjoyed working at USF and her office was on the waterfront in downtown St. Petersburg. She loved being in the classroom andrecently accepted a position to return full-time in the fall. One of her favorite classes to teach was Introduction to the US Government to incoming freshmen. She prided herself on the fact no one could ever determine her political or religious affiliations.
Sheila also enjoyed boating. In 2022, she received her certification from the U.S. Sailing Association to charter sailing catamarans. Sheila and her husband were in the process of purchasing a Performance Cruising sailing catamaran which they planned to cruise in the Florida Keys and the British Virgin Islands (BVI). Some of her fondest memories were of cruising with her family in the BVI.
Through all the years Sheila’s truest passion was her children and grandchildren. The family maintained a part-time residence in Chambersburg, PA where Sheila stayed every summer with the children and any of their friends who wanted to visit. This tradition continued with hergrandchildren. One of the last things Sheila was doing before her untimely passing was preparing for her return to Chambersburg the second week of May, where she could host her children and grandchildren throughout the summer. Although, she did have a trip planned to Italy, Croatia and Germany with her husband and mother to visit friends and explore cities with Cathedrals she had not yet seen.
While we are heartbroken, we know her selfless acts and love of God have granted her a life of eternal peace. A memorial mass for Sheila is scheduled for Friday, May 12, 2023 at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Chambersburg, PA at 1:00 PM. She will be interned in Arlington National Cemetery, VA sometime next year. In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes donations to her favorite charity, Catholic Relief Services@www.crs.org in her Memory