Bessie M. Shea

November 20, 1921November 11, 2012

Bessie Marie Shea passed away on November 11, 2012. She would have turned 91 on November 20. Bessie died at Water’s Edge Nursing Home, in Middletown, CT. She had lived in the Middletown area for the past several years, and prior to that mostly in New London since 1945. It is fitting that she died on Veteran’s Day, since of all the incredible things she accomplished in her life, she was most proud of having served in the US Coast Guard during WWII. She was stationed on the air-sea rescue base at Salem, MA, where she met her husband, John Joseph Shea. They were married for 34 years until he died in 1979. Bessie was well known in New London where she was a Girl Scout Leader for more than twenty years and the librarian at St. Joseph School for several more. She held a myriad of jobs during her lifetime - working in a factory in Detroit at the start of WWII, as a switchboard operator and a truck driver in the Coast Guard, as a hairdresser, a florist, a clerk in a sporting goods store, and in her retirement, even at McDonald’s (mostly for the french fries) and as a baby-sitter and a cat-sitter for friends all over Connecticut. She loved to drive and could be seen trekking all over the state in her lavender painted car with license plates that read “Grandma”. Despite having a notoriously terrible sense of direction, she even drove a RV across the country in 1978 to visit all of the landmarks she had always wanted to see. She was a staunch supporter of the UConn Women’s basketball team and of the New York Yankees. She is survived by her son, James Lawrence Shea, and his wife Martha (Crowley) Shea of Wallingford, CT, and by her daughter, Elizabeth Friedmann and her husband Scott Friedmann of Berlin, CT. She also has three granddaughters who were her pride and joy, Jennifer Shea of Barkhamsted, CT, and Taylor Friedmann and MacKenzie Friedmann, both of Berlin, CT. Bessie’s wish was to be cremated and her ashes buried with her husband at Calverton Military Cemetery on Long Island. There will be a memorial service at Bethany Lutheran Church, 50 Court Street, Cromwell, CT on Sunday November 18, 2012 at 2:00pm. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Girl Scouts of Connecticut (GSOFCT), 340 Washington Street, Hartford, CT 06106 or online at New Britain Memorial/ Donald D. Sagarino Funeral home is serving the family. For additional information or to send a message to the family, please go to


Bessie M. Shea

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Ed Feltcorn

November 19, 2012

I remember Bessie as a devoted mother to Elizabeth and Jim. I was a neighbor of her's on Aitchison Drive. I have many memories of her strength and spirit from my own childhood as her neighbor. I also remember her mother (probably in her 80s) in the chair in the living room as being quite the "firecracker" herself.

Ken Bailey

November 15, 2012

I am so sorry for your loss. Even though I do not know the family and I have never met Mrs. Shea I was moved by ther Obituary. She seems like a she was a firecracker and one hell of a women. I am sure she will be soarly missed.

Peg Demers

November 15, 2012

The path between the homes, sandwiches with butter!, camping with the girlscouts and all the campfire songs,Ocean Pizza pizza, the best floral arranger my Mom ever knew! She will be missed by many of us but I know my Mom and her are already chatting...xoxo

Amanda Doescher

November 14, 2012

So many memories. The sandbox behind the house in NL, the tea parties and grape juice, sleepovers and playing in the basement. All the while your mom was there. You house and your mom were a haven to me as a child. She was a great woman. God be with you Liz and Jimmy( that's the way I remember him).

Debbie Ahl

November 14, 2012

Liz and Jim, I always liked your mother. She was a strong woman and one that achieved alot. It was always nice to see her at the family gatherings. She was a spit fire of a lady and I know you will miss her. My condolances to you both and your families!

Veronica Bartlett

November 14, 2012

I was the beneficiary of many of Mrs. Shea's talents. She was my Girl Scout leader for many years and a better leader never existed. She also painstakingly embroidered my Irish Step Dancing costume more than 30 years ago. She also mothered one of my oldest, dearest, friends. Thanks, Mrs. Shea.