Sheila L. Grader

April 15, 1938April 7, 2019

Sheila L. Grader, Ph.D., age 80, died on Saturday, April 7, 2019, in Marblehead, Massachusetts, as a result of a heart attack.

Sheila was born and raised in Stafford, United Kingdom, the daughter of the late Eric W. and Lilian M. (Kirkbride) Humphries, and graduated from the Stafford Girls High School as valedictorian of the Class of 1956. She attended the London School of Economics, where she met Charles R. “Bud” Grader, a native of Marblehead. After completing her Bachelor of Science in Economics in 1959, she and Bud married, and together embarked on a life that took them around the world in the foreign service.

Sheila was not only a devoted wife, but an erudite partner on Bud’s diplomatic missions to Tunisia, Senegal, Cameroon, Nepal, Afghanistan, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Guinee. She was a lively conversationalist and an able diplomat in her own right, and dove into the study of each country, enrolling in the local universities and pouring through research on local culture, people, and politics. She was also a steadfast and loving mother during her family’s wide-ranging travels, exhibiting her characteristic stiff upper lip with calm and fortitude on many occasions. After meeting Secou Toure, the first African revolutionary to achieve independence for Guinee from France, she developed an interest in the topic of ideology in international relations, which blossomed into further study.

She returned to the London School of Economics to pursue her Ph.D., which she completed in 1988. Her thesis “International Relations and Ideology” was no less than an attempt to rescue the British school of international relations from the philosophical challenge presented by the phenomenon of ideology. She published several of her shorter works in political philosophy in scholarly journals. Although she received a contract to publish her Ph.D. thesis from the Cambridge University Press, she felt that she needed to address the larger problem of ideology itself and began a review of her thesis as a Resident Scholar at Harvard University. She also taught a course on Western Civilization at Northeastern University.

As a fiercely independent intellectual spirit acutely aware of her own personal susceptibility to ideological thinking, Sheila spent her life’s work wrestling with a comprehensive view of the meaning of ideology’s impact on philosophy – reading, critiquing, and reviewing the entire cannon of western thought and history to do so. She recently completed an ambitious draft of her “An Experiment on the Idea of Ideology,” which her family hopes will see the light of day in her honor. Although she joked that she could not hope to finish a book of this scope before she died, she persisted in her faith that her unique voice would ultimately be heard.

The hallmark of Sheila’s legacy is her loving children and family, her devotion to the mission of American diplomacy around the world, and her total commitment to the intellectual life. Her love of abstract ideas was tempered by her ever-present sense of humor, her love of classical music, and her deepening faith. As she grew older, she became more private, but her distance contrasted with her mastery of thoughtful kindnesses, which she would dispense freely to those she held close. Although she and Bud became estranged, a tragedy she came to see as largely self-inflicted and for which she sought forgiveness, Sheila put down roots in Marblehead and devoted herself to her two grandsons, showering them with love, books, gifts, an endless stream of cards on every occasion. With them, as with her nieces and nephews in England, she re-discovered the love and family continuity that gave her true happiness to the end of her life. She took great comfort in her Christian faith and her worship at St. Michael’s Church.

Sheila is survived by her two children, Moses Grader, and his wife Gayle of Marblehead, and Sarah Ayotte, and her husband Rick of Essex, CT; by her brother John Humphries and her sister Valerie Ravenscroft, both of Stafford, United Kingdom; and two grandchildren Zach and Nick of Marblehead. Her funeral services will be held on Saturday, May 4, 2019, at 11:00 A.M. at St. Michael’s Church, 26 Pleasant St., Marblehead to be followed by a reception there celebrating her life. Interment will be private. At the family’s request there are no visiting hours. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. Michael’s Church. Arrangements by Eustis and Cornell of Marblehead. For online guest book or additional information please visit


4 May

Funeral Service

11:00 am

St. Michael's Episcopal Church

26 Pleasant Street
Marblehead, MA 01945


Sheila L. Grader

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