Carol Sama Sheehan
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Carol Sama Sheehan, 66, a pioneering American magazine journalist, died peacefully at her home in Ashfield, MA, on April 18, 2013.
In 1997, Ms. Sheehan began an eleven year stint as editor-in-chief of Country Home, a magazine published by Meredith Corp, in Des Moines, IA. She thrived in that capacity, despite the rigors of a bi-weekly commute from Western MA to her employer's home office.
The magazine was celebrated by both its readership and by the publishing industry. During her stint as editor of Country Home, Ms. Sheehan regularly served as a judge in the American Society of Magazine Editors' National Magazine Awards—a competition that on several occasions included Country Home.
She retired from Meredith in 2008 to take on a variety of book and magazine consultancies.
In 1975, Ms. Sheehan became the editor-in-chief of Houston Home & Garden, the first publication of its kind to make the transition from a generic regional publication to a nationally recognized magazine with a focus on the design and style of a specific market. Dallas/Ft. Worth Home & Garden was soon to follow and Ms. Sheehan also served as that publication's top editor.
It was the success of those two journals that attracted the attention of The New York Times Co., which, at the time, was looking to expand beyond its core newspaper business. Ms. Sheehan joined the Times Co. to become the first editor-in-chief of Decorating Remodeling—later to be known as American Home Style.
In 1989 the Hearst Corporation recruited Ms. Sheehan as the founding editor of Countryside magazine, a publication that celebrated contemporary country life and stewardship of the land. Two years later, she would fully embrace that lifestyle with the relocation with her husband Laurence to a farmhouse in Ashfield, Massachusetts.
For several years, Ms. Sheehan's editorial focus shifted to book publishing, as she and Laurence assembled a group of like-minded colleagues and friends to publish a series of design- and lifestyle-focused titles for Clarkson Potter Publishing, among them The Sporting Life—A Passion for Hunting and Fishing (1992) and Living with Dogs (1999).
A 1968 graduate of the University of Houston, Carol Sheehan once recalled, "Growing up in Texas, I had a fantasy about the antiquity of New England. To be here and to see the seasons was like living the pages of a calendar…. What do I like most about the place? The quiet and the peacefulness. When I write I can concentrate. And the people are helpful, interested in making us feel welcome."
Ms. Sheehan's four-year battle with cancer was powerfully supported by family and friends, including a local exercise group. In addition to her loving husband of 30 years, she is survived by her mother Helen Sama of Houston, her father Walter Sama of Boca Raton, stepchildren Aurelie Sheehan of Tucson, AZ, Alex Sheehan of Alpharetta, GA, and four grandchildren.
Carol Sheehan's friends will celebrate her life at a gathering in Ashfield this summer and at any number of spontaneous informal assemblies of her vast loyal network of friends, admirers, and former colleagues throughout the country. The family has requested that any donations in Carol's memory be made to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute's Dr. Lawrence Shulman Breast Cancer Research Fund, 450 Brookline Avenue, Boston, MA 02215.
Published in Des Moines Register on Apr. 24, 2013