Beloved sister and aunt, with a smile that could light up a room, Sharon Rita O’ Leary, age 66, passed away peacefully at the Respite House in Colchester, Vt., on December 16th, after a long ordeal with breast cancer.
Born in Rhode Island to Paul and Rita (Coyne) O’ Leary, she grew up in beautiful Manchester, Vt when the family moved there in the late 1950s. As a child, Sharon loved playing in the woods, riding her bicycle along back roads, and visiting the Mark Skinner library with her siblings, Anne, Kathy, Paul, and John. She was a good swimmer and enjoyed summer cookouts of well charred hotdogs, potato chips, and mom’s lemonade punch at Hapgood Pond, and Emerald Lake. In times when you waxed your skis and wore lace up ski boots, Sharon learned to ski at Bromley Mountain, and also skied at Stratton with her dad, and siblings. She and her brothers envied their Dad when he got a pair of buckle boots!
Visiting relatives in Worcester, Ma. was always special because she would be in the “city” with its bright lights, huge department stores, and gilded cinemas with the current movies. In the “country” it would be about six months after the release date before a movie made it to town.
She loved being with her glamorous single Aunt Evelyn who, like a movie star, had boyfriends who brought her roses. She eventually married Jack, the fella who also brought jellybeans to her nieces and nephews! Her Uncle Raymond was a city policeman in Worcester, Ma., who carried a gun and wore a uniform just like you saw on TV!
Sharon graduated from Burr and Burton Seminary ( now Burr and Burton Academy.) In high school she had joined the Earth Theater drama group and after graduation took a year of classes at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in NYC. She continued her higher education at Hollins College in Roanoke, Va, for a year, and then completed her B. A. degree in English at U.V.M. In Burlington, Vt. She also took courses in accounting at Champlain College.
Liking city life, Sharon became a resident of Burlington. She held a variety of jobs, at the Spaghetti Pot that had the most delicious meatballs, Atwater Kent, The Golden Dragon, The Old Lantern, The Radisson that served a fabulous breakfast, The Orchid, Sweetwaters, Libby’s Diner, and Vermont Teddy Bear.
With the greenest of thumbs, Sharon loved having a flower garden wherever she lived.
Always a fan of dance, and having taken some ballet classes, in summer months she loved going to Saratoga to see The NYC Ballet. After seeing the beautiful ballet performances, Sharon and her sister, Kathy, would discuss the show over a tasty pastry at Mrs. London’s Bakery in downtown Saratoga Springs.
Sharon is predeceased by her wonderful parents, Rita and Paul O’ Leary, and her older sister, Anne. She is survived by her sister, Kathleen & husband, Joe Cassidy and their boys,Kevin, Mickey & wife Becca, and Daniel, her brother, Paul & wife, Sherry, and their boys, Matt and Ryan, and brother John & his wife Kris and their boys, Colin and Max.
Sharon was a doting aunt who adored her nephews. She loved spending holidays with family and the boys loved visiting her in Burlington, going to Echo Museum, making sand castles at North Beach, and swimming at hotel indoor pools during winter holidays. Her attention was not limited to her nephews; Sharon was a dog sitter extraordinaire and will be sorely missed by her canine friends!
She is also survived by her stepmother Betty O’Leary, and step siblings, Bernadette Dooney, Jeanne Chisamore, Robert and his wife, Jamie Houskeeper, Peter Houskeeper, Margaret and her husband John Ohrn, Matt Houskeeper, and Erica and her husband David Barron, and their children, Margo, Henry, Sam, Eric, Ryan, Kristy, Kelsey, Sophie, Jack, and Phoebe.
Sharon was grateful for the compassionate UVM Hospital medical personnel who helped her through this difficult time. She also felt fortunate to have caring nurses and staff at Queen City Health and Rehab, in Burlington, Vt, who strived to keep her comfortable, and made her chocolate milkshakes!
A memorial service to celebrate Sharon’s life will be held at a later date.
Donations in Sharon Rita O’Leary’s memory can be directed to the Victoria Buffum Cancer Patient Support Fund at the UVM Medical Center, Courtyard at Given 3N, 111 Colchester Ave., Burlington, VT 05401, or online at https://give.uvmhealth.org/buffum .
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