Jan. 13, 1925 — Sept. 11, 2019
QUEENSBURY — Sheela Abbate, 94, passed from this life on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019 at home with her family, where she most wanted to be. She was born on Jan. 13, 1925 in Nenagh, County Tipperary, Ireland to the late Ellen and Patrick Ryan.
Sheela was raised in Ireland, part of a large and loving family which included two beloved aunts, Kit and Molly. During World War II, she moved with her sister, Mary, to England to work in a ball bearing factory, to help the war effort and, as she openly admitted, to have a bit of an adventure. It was there at a dance that she met and fell in love with an American Army staff sergeant, an airplane mechanic who was stationed at a nearby airfield. Sheela Ryan married Tony Abbate on June 21, 1945 at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Chelmsford, England. When the war ended, she moved with Tony to the U.S. to start their family in Oyster Bay, where Tony had grown up. His warm and loving family welcomed Sheela and, over the years, a robust extended family grew. Sheela and Tony moved to nearby Syosset, where they raised their four children. They welcomed Sheela’s sisters, Mary and Sally, to live with them. The four stayed together long after the children had grown and left home, separating only as they died.
Sheela was, first and foremost, a mom — the best mom! She lovingly created a home for her family and made sure there was a good meal on the kitchen table every night, around which the family of eight would gather. One of the most remarkable things about Sheela was how generously she shared her children with her sisters. Because Sheela made them an integral part of her family, they came to know the love of a child in a way they would not otherwise have known, and the children were blessed to grow up with four loving guardians.
This attitude of welcome was extended to many throughout her life. Family members and friends visiting from Ireland were often at the house, the children’s friends always had the door open for them and, even late in life, Sheela would connect with new friends in a meaningful way. She was a natural at nurturing others and was a wonderful mother who worked hard to ensure that her children would have every opportunity for higher education and a good life.
At the core of all Sheela did was her tremendous faith in God as a devout Catholic, something she imparted not only to her children as they were growing up but to any person who she came to know. She inspired many with her faith, and in her last years, and certainly her last days, wondered aloud how anyone could get through the trials of this earthly life without the faith of knowing that a loving and compassionate God was with them on the journey. She was a communicant of Our Lady of the Annunciation Church since moving to Queensbury in 2002. She was so grateful to her friends, John and Delores, for regularly bringing her Holy Communion after she could no longer attend Mass.
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Sheela was predeceased by her beloved husband, Anthony Abbate, as well as her sisters, Mary, Sally, Nell and Eilish Ryan and Kitty (Ryan) Abbate; and her brother, Willie Ryan.
She is survived by her sons, Michael (Pamela) Abbate of Wilmington, North Carolina and William (Carol) Abbate of Lenoir, North Carolina; and daughters, Ellen (Timothy) Brooks of Saratoga Springs and Judy (Bruce) Carr of Queensbury. She also leaves 13 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.
Sheela’s family thanks Dr. John Sawyer and PA Lynn Keil for their tremendous compassion and support, not only at the end of her life — which was a great comfort — but also for the care that helped Sheela to live 94 years. They thank the three incredible and very special women who came into Sheela’s life as caregivers and friends and allowed her to remain at home where she most wanted to be, Annette, Marthe and Melissa. Thank you all.
Calling hours will be held from 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 14, in the sanctuary of Our Lady of the Annunciation Roman Catholic Church, with the Mass of Christian burial following at 12:30 p.m., celebrated by Rev. Joseph Busch. Burial will take place at 10 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 16, at the Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Sheela’s memory may be made to the Emergency Assistance Fund of North Country Ministry, P.O. Box 478, Warrensburg, NY 12885; or to the Saratoga Hospital Foundation, 211 Church St., Saratoga Springs, NY 12866.
Arrangements are under the care of the Singleton Sullivan Potter Funeral Home, 407 Bay Road, Queensbury, and those who wish may make online condolences at sbfuneralhome.com.