Sheila Sweyer Bachman, 92, wife of the late Dr. William H. Bachman, died peacefully in her sleep after a short illness in Drumore, Pa., Nov. 6, 2019.
Born in Hornell, N.Y., Feb. 24, 1927, she was the only daughter of Walter and Rosamund Sweyer.
Walter was a store manager for the Kinney shoe company and the family moved frequently, living in a variety of towns throughout the Pennsylvania/New York region. This instilled a love of people and places in Sheila from an early age.
A quick learner (her high school nickname was “Speedy” because she was usually the first to put a hand in the air to answer questions), she skipped a year of primary school and was always the youngest in her class, which never seemed to be a problem because of her adventurous spirit.
The final stop of her nomadic youth was Williamsport, Pa., where she attended the same high school as a young man named Bill Bachman, who was to become the love of her life.
Life changed quickly as high school finished and the U.S. became involved in World War II. By 1943, many young men, Bill included, had gone into military service. Life continued for Sheila at home, with a string of part-time jobs and volunteer contributions to the war effort. In the fall of 1944, she entered Cadet Nurse Corps training at Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia. For almost three years, she and Bill conducted a courtship by mail but were not reunited until his discharge from the U.S. Coast Guard in mid-1946. Upon returning, Bill enrolled in university and then medical school, while Sheila completed her studies and began working as a nurse. They married in Philadelphia in 1950.
Sheila was of a generation of women who willingly sacrificed a potentially satisfying professional career for motherhood and home management, at both of which she excelled. Four children were born between 1952 and 1961, during which time Bill completed his residency in Williamsport, Pa., and established a family medical practice in Wellsboro, Pa.
A 64-acre farm with barn, pastures, stream and woods in small-town Wellsboro was home for 25 years, during which time Sheila not only raised a family but was able to develop and enjoy many personal interests. “Make every day an adventure” was one of Bill’s favorite sayings and Sheila certainly tried. Among many other pursuits, she was an occasional golfer, a good horsewoman and motorcycle rider and an enthusiastic skier (not one but three broken legs as evidence). She always had a large and bountiful vegetable garden and was an excellent shot with rifle and pistol and an expert fly fisher. She could usually be counted on to win more gin rummy games than she lost and to catch the biggest fish.
The years between 1981 and 1991 were spent in Lancaster County, Pa., where Bill was associate director in Department of Family and Community Medicine at Lancaster General Hospital and chief of the Walter L. Aument Family Health Center in Quarryville.
Following Bill’s retirement in 1991, life was divided between their Pennsylvania house in the woods and Orient, N.Y., a small village at the end of the North Fork of Long Island, where they remodeled an old sea captain’s cottage in which Sheila’s father had lived until his death in 1989. In 1996, they moved permanently to Orient and enjoyed a comfortable seaside life of boating, fishing, lobstering and clamming until 2004. In their late 70s, they surprised the entire family by moving to a ranch house on five acres in Hamilton, Mont., where they could continue to pursue the outdoor life in a new setting and indulge their love of fly fishing.
In the many the towns she called home Sheila was an active participant or volunteer worker in a variety of areas, including church, book and women’s groups, conservation organizations, libraries and schools.
After 10 happy years in Montana, Sheila returned to Pennsylvania in 2014 following the death of her husband of 64 years, since which time she lived with her daughter, Barbara, and son-in-law, Roger, in Drumore, Pa.
Though special in ways only glimpsed here, statistically speaking, in her final years she was a member of a very small demographic elite as a left-handed (about 10% of the world’s population) redheaded (one or 2%) nonagenarian (less than 1% of the U.S. population). Perhaps fittingly, she died only minutes after the clock ticked past midnight on National Redhead Day.
Sheila is survived by her daughter, Barbara, and sons, Bill, David and Todd; their spouses, Roger Josephian, Sally Rodd, Julie Osgood and Elizabeth Bronson; and five grandchildren, Billy Josephian, Johanna Blumenfeld and Sara, Ryan and Nick Bachman. Her only brother, Walt Sweyer, predeceased her in May 2019.
A memorial service will be held on Sunday, Dec. 15, at 1 p.m. at Chestnut Level Presbyterian Church, 1068 Chestnut Level Road, Quarryville, PA 17566. A reception will follow at 1209 McCauley Lane, Drumore, PA 17518.
Donations in her memory can be made to the Quarryville Library and Solanco Neighborhood Ministries.
This is a paid notice.