Deanna Whiteside Sheriff
October 25, 1938 – May 20, 2020
Deanna Whiteside Sheriff of Missoula, MT, died on May 20, 2020, at the age of 81. Born on October 25, 1938 in Camden, Arkansas, Deanna graduated from Little Rock Central High School in 1956. She received her undergraduate degree at Texas Woman’s University in 1960 and her Masters in Education from the University of Montana in 1966.
Deanna will be missed by her loving family: daughter Leesa Albert (Joseph); dear friend and former spouse Russell Sheriff; grandsons Campbell and Russell Addington and granddaughters Ellie and Izzy Albert; sister Linda Bowker (William); nephews Daniel and Andrew Bowker; brother Dean Whiteside, Jr; niece Maggi Dennis. She was predeceased by her parents Dean and Virginia Whiteside.
An avid tennis and volleyball player, she was often seen riding her bike around Missoula. (even when she was nine months pregnant!). Anyone who knew Deanna knew how competitive and passionate she was, especially about college football. Go Hogs! Go Griz!
Deanna dedicated over 20 years of service to the University of Montana in various capacities, including Alumni Director, Director of Public and Media Relations, and Advocate Director.
A loving message from one of her favorite Advocates, Patricia Britton:
“When I speak of my dear friend, Deanna Sheriff, I always preface it with “my college mentor.” She was indeed a mentor and more. She was inspiration, friend, family—she saw something in me that I didn’t see myself.
Deanna inspired many, many women. When she arrived at the University of Montana in the 1960s, women students had never had such an example before. Deanna was a pioneer female leader at the university who was agnostic about whom she championed; she wanted everyone to flourish.
Grand projects—alumni gatherings, film festivals, sports events, artistic collaborations, spiritual convenings, and many other big ideas—“magically” manifested out of her creative, cross-community alliances. The magic was in her energy, insight, enthusiasm, deep generosity, and her ever-expanding network of people, and their people, and their people’s people.
We will miss her amazing full-body laugh, which we heard often. Those of us who love her believe in her magic; we will keep our senses tuned.
She was my introduction to the power of a group of like-minded women that she added to in the faith that the sum would be greater than the parts.
Deanna was my second biggest fan (my mom comes first) and always believed in my talent and loved to hear me sing. Even with compromised cognition in the last years of her life, she always asked me what shows I was performing or touring in (though I had long since stopped my performing career) and we would sing a song or two together.”
Tom Woodbury, dear friend and Spiritual Program Coordinator, shared his memories highlighting the importance of Deanna’s spiritual life and her impact on the Buddhist community.
“Deanna provided refuge for thousands of spiritual seekers over the span of three decades by generously opening her home to host Osel Shen Phen Ling dharma center, part of the worldwide network of Tibetan Buddhist centers in the tradition of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. She was the long-time center director, and went out of her way to make every visitor feel welcome with her unique blend of southern hospitality and charming personality. Visiting lamas and teachers cherished Deanna's warmth and humor, and everyone was inspired by her deep devotion to the dharma. She was a shining light for the entire community, and left Missoula a lasting legacy of kind heartedness.”
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Osel Shen Phen Ling at 500 N. Higgins #208A, Missoula, MT 59801.
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Deanna Whiteside Sheriff
Dena Elizabeth Ferguson Jenkins
May 30, 2020
Very ,very proud to be named after her since mom and her were longtime friends from college days. I am sorry for the loss to this world, but I am sure mom and Deanna s energies have found each other already.
May 29, 2020
I had the good fortune of knowing Deanna (Nanna) through my friendship with her Amazing daughter Leesa. She was always kind, gracious and made a mean pot roast! She had this peaceful spirit about her and when you spoke with her she listened with great intention. I know her spirit lives on through her beautiful daughter and grandchildren as Leesa has that magic of manifestation and so many other attributes . There’s a sunflower in my garden right now that I have named Nanna, she showed up soon after Deanna passed. I kinda think it was her way of her sprinkling a little magic 🌻