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Bessie Marie Shea passed away on Nov. 11, 2012. She would have turned 91 on Nov. 20. Bessie died at Water's Edge Nursing Home, in Middletown. 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 World War II. She was stationed on the air-sea rescue base at Salem, Mass., 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 20 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 World War II, 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; and by her daughter, Elizabeth Friedmann and her husband Scott Friedmann of Berlin. She also has three granddaughters who were her pride and joy, Jennifer Shea of Barkhamsted, and Taylor Friedmann and MacKenzie Friedmann, both of Berlin.
Bessie's wish was to be cremated and her ashes buried with her husband at Calverton Military Cemetery on Long Island. A memorial service was held Nov. 15, 2012 at Bethany Lutheran Church, Cromwell. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Girl Scouts of Connecticut (GSOFCT), 340 Washington Street, Hartford, CT 06106 or online at http://www.gsofct.org/support/individuals.php
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 www.newbritainsagarino.com
Published in Berlin Citizen on Nov. 21, 2012