Victoria Regina Shouldis (1964 - 2011)

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HILLSBORO - Victoria Regina Shouldis passed away Friday, October 28, 2011, after a long battle with cholangiocarcinoma.

The daughter of Valerie Petersen Shouldis and Donald Shouldis, Victoria was born Sept. 27, 1964, in Tottenville, Staten Island, N.Y.

Like many transplants to New Hampshire, Victoria and her mother arrived here for what was supposed to be a brief stay to allow Victoria to earn a degree from New England College in Henniker. Nearly 30 years later, they were still living in their beloved Hillsboro and had remained long enough that they felt the good people of New Hampshire had almost granted them native status.

Victoria graduated from New England College in 1986, winning a silver bowl called the Creative Arts Award for her writing activities.

Victoria's middle name came from her grandfather, Reginald Petersen, an avid photographer and maker of fine home-brewed root beer, who passed away two years before she was born. It was her mother's hope that Victoria would be the reincarnation of Reginald. Victoria tended to believe this was the case. She certainly shared his love of photography, though she never got around to trying her hand at making root beer.

Feet firmly planted in the "Free to be You and Me" generation, Victoria was raised by her mother to be a bleeding-heart liberal and advocate for animals. Her mother also passed on a passion for civil rights, bringing Victoria along to benefits for the children of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg at the age of 7.

Victoria's mother instilled in her resilience, strength, dignity, humor and the ability to trust and believe in herself and to care about doing what was right.

Because of those character traits, Vicky took great pride in the fact that she spent much of her adult life working as a social worker for the state of New Hampshire, acting as an advocate for adults with chronic mental illness adults. She was also grateful for the ability to pursue a second career as a freelance writer.

Vicky's writing career started in earnest during her senior year at New England College, when she took over editorship of the school's paper, The New Englander. It was her secret hope that she would be able to turn the traditionally right-wing publication into a bastion of liberal activity. Vicky later hoped a liberal wave would sweep New Hampshire politics as a whole. She passed away without seeing this hope come to fruition, but, still, she has her fingers crossed.

Victoria wrote for the Concord Monitor nearly 20 years. She also wrote for New Hampshire Public Radio and NH ToDo magazine.

Just before her death, Vicky was honored to earn three awards for her writing and photography from the New Hampshire Press Association.

Though she never learned to swim, Vicky had a great love of the water, and one of her favorite beach-related activities was to watch the amazing feats at the annual Hampton Beach Master Sand Sculpting Competition.

She was also a huge music fan, attending an absurd number of concerts in her adult life, including shows by the Barenaked Ladies, Leonard Cohen, Paul McCartney, Squeeze and Rick Springfield, who, throughout her life, remained a not-so-secret crush and by far her most favorite interview subject.

While Vicky was the last of her immediate family, she learned (especially during the last few months of her life) that family as an institution is not restricted by shared DNA. To that end, she would like to thank not just her traditional family - Aunt Lois and cousins Robin, Jean, Paul and Barbara – but the extended family made up of her friends, including Sparky, Lana, Heidi, Rejane, Deb, Melissa, Jeff, Chris, Cynthia, Michele, Andrea, Paula, Lorrie, Jen and Hans. She also leaves behind her beloved cat, Casy, who has been happily adopted by trusted friends.

In Vicky's experience, a sense of family was limited only by love, and she experienced few limitations on that love. She intends to take it all with her and send it back.

A celebration of Victoria's life will be held Monday, November 7, at 6 p.m., at The Barley House on Main Street in Concord.

n lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Concord-Merrimack County SPCA, 130 Washington St., Penacook, N.H. 03303.
Published in The Concord Monitor on Nov. 2, 2011
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