Profile By: Benjamin Divis


Part Nine Relishing Retirement

For some, retirement is a time of winding down. For Sheila, it has been the opposite. Prior to arriving in the United States, she had vacationed in Italy and Ireland but had done little traveling otherwise. Her nomadic desires came back in full force at the turn of the century and since then, she and Bob have set foot on all seven continents. They embark on new expeditions every year, eager to see as much of the world as possible, for if they stay in Nebraska too long, Sheila starts exhibiting symptoms of cabin fever. “I’m paranoid if the next trip’s not yet planned” (qtd. in Myers 4).

When not circumnavigating the globe, Sheila has been participating in various humanitarian projects around the city. For example, she has served on the guild board for Uta Halee Girls Village in Ponca Hills, Nebraska’s only state-subsidized school and rehabilitation center for troubled adolescent girls, many of whom are victims of trauma, abuse, and even sex trafficking. “Mainly we raised money and awareness and sometimes volunteered to do different activities with the girls” (Interview). She worked for Uta Halee from the early 2000s until the institution’s termination in 2011 due to slashed funding. “It was expensive to run because you had to have psychologists and teachers and there’s a large campus” (Interview).

From 2002-2005, Shelia served on the guild board of the Monroe-Myer Institute, a program operating out of the University of Nebraska Medical Center which provides assistance for approximately 15,000 Nebraskans annually whilst conducting research on autism and other developmental disorders. It also provides “state-wide technical assistance and consultation to Nebraska public schools and other programs across the state that provide services to children, youth and adults with disabilities” (Leibowitz). Even now, Sheila can be found volunteering at the Med Center every week, helping newcomers and confused visitors navigate the winding hallways to their appointments. She remains active in her church group at the Dundee Presbyterian Church, serving as president of Presbyterian Women from 2007 to 2009. “Every group I’ve been in, I’ve been one of the officers” (Interview).


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Part Ten Jeopardy!

Finally, Sheila has qualified not once, but twice to compete on Jeopardy! Her first appilcation was in 2004 when auditions were being held at what is now the Magnolia Hotel in downtown Omaha. Applicants were presented with 50 questions and for every room of 90 people, only the six who scored highest had any chance of becoming contestants. “I made sure I’d written something for every single one of those questions and you could tell without even looking that people around you were drawing blanks” (Interview). After the answers were tallied, Sheila’s name was called and she was put on the Jeopardy! waiting list for one year. Sadly, 2005 rolled by without so much as a phone call.

Sheila, as expected, did not give up. In June 2006, she auditioned a second time in Chicago and once again was a finalist.