RHEA ESHELMAN
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ESHELMAN Rhea Eshelman, 69, passed away on June 7, 2013, almost 30 years after she was diagnosed with chronic-progressive multiple sclerosis, a testimony to a life of graceful resilience, unflagging faith, quiet determination and valiant optimism that was - and is - an inspiration to anyone fortunate enough to call her friend. Born on July 24, 1943, to Elmer Rounds and Rhea Mainville Rounds, she was the first of five children and grew up on Beach Road on the edge of Narragansett Bay in Bristol, Rhode Island. As a student she worked at Newport Creamery, starting a sweet family tradition, and she finished as the valedictorian for the class of 1961 at Colt Memorial High School, now known as Bristol Senior High School. That academic excellence continued in the Ivy League at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia where she joined Alpha Zeta Delta and also sang in the University Choir, which deepened her love of music and performance into a lifelong enthusiasm. Her Bachelor of Science degree in medical technology in 1965 was an uncommon achievement for a young woman of that era and is burnished by the stature of the university medical school, the oldest in the nation. Her career would take her to Memorial Hospital and then Mayo Clinic Hospital, both in Jacksonville, Florida, her home since the early 1970s and the place where she raised four daughters, Tracy, Kelly, Paige and Caryn, and shared her life with William Eshelman, her husband of 29 years. Her career in science was paired with a rich spiritual life centered in Jacksonville at Resurrection Catholic Church where she was an engaged and caring parishioner since 1973. She would channel equal energies into the MS Society as a peer counselor and into the MS Walk as a fundraising volunteer and even as role model when a photograph with her beaming smile was used in a regional campaign. The United Way of Northeast Florida lauded her determination in Faces of United Way campaign in 2000 even as she continued to work through 2008. When she was honored by Mayo she made it clear that no mobility challenge and no prognosis could alter her innate traits of empathy, practicality and engagement: I can make a difference, and I can help people as a result of MS. It's been a positive experience in many ways. She was predeceased by her parents and a brother, Daniel. She is survived by her loving husband William, daughters Tracy Boucher (Geoff), Kelly White (David), Paige Pasquale (Dom), Caryn Scott (Doug), Amy Frazier, and Cheri Hayes (Wes). She is also survived by her nine grandchildren; Hannah Burlingame, Addie & Ben Boucher, Megan Zeiher, Brandon Hersey, Matt and Tyler Pasquale, and Aidan and Sean Scott. A Memorial Mass will be held in her honor on Friday, June 14, at 11 a.m. at Resurrection Catholic Church, located at 3383 University Boulevard North. A reception will follow in the parish hall. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you donate to the Rhea Eshelman Memorial Fund set up through the Northeast Florida Chapter of the MS Society. Please Sign the Guestbook @ Jacksonville.com



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Published in Florida Times-Union on Jun. 12, 2013.
Memories & Condolences
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37 entries
July 2, 2013
I knew Rhea from work at Mayo Clinic. She was always so upbeat and never failed to have a smile on her face. What a wonderful and inspiring lady! I miss her and I ride the Bike MS150 in her honor.
Debra Ruffino
June 17, 2013
May God be with you and your family during this time of loss. Your mothers smile will be missed.
The Rojics Family
Jeff Rojics
June 17, 2013
To the family of this wonderful woman, stay strong and have faith to know that HE makes no mistakes. This is a journey we all will take one day. I pray that we will have served in the same gracious and aspiring way as her. I feel close to the family through the friendship I have with Amy. Be blessed! Frankie
June 16, 2013
I didn't mean to have my photo and message to be anonymous. Sorry, Tom Goff, Bristol
Thomas Goff
June 15, 2013
Thinking of you during this time...
Rhea was such a beautiful and courageous woman who could light up a room with her smile. I will always treasure the wonderful memories of my early childhood with her and the Burlingame sisters. She was always so positive and shared great advice. She leaves behind a rich legacy, and her spirit will live on in all the lives she touched.
Much Love to you all.
Lara Swetz Bouve
June 15, 2013
I submitted a photo of the Rhea I remember. She was someone everyone loved to be around. Thanks to Facebook, we all get to see the wonderful person she became. To her beautiful family, I am sorry for your great loss. Oceans of love to you all from a friend who grew up with her in Bristol. Peace.
June 15, 2013
Rhea's yearbook picture
Goff Thomas
June 14, 2013
To the Eshelman family I can't begin to imagine how hard it must be to say goodbye to a loved one, especially a parent and spouse. I have known Rhea since junior high when I became friends with her daughter Cheri. Rhea was the most pleasant and sweet lady I have ever known. Our family prays time heals your sorrow.
Tina, Jeff, Jonathan Mitchell
June 14, 2013
Caryn and family - We have had you in our thoughts and prayers, especially today. Take care. Love - Ray & Harriet Scott
June 14, 2013
To Bill and girls , You know my dear Rhea was my friend since Caryn was 4 months old. I love all of you and know that sweet memories of my dear friend with help you though this difficult time.
Sandie Williams-Howd
June 13, 2013
Steady and strong. Rhea always independent. Had a smile for everyone.
June 12, 2013
Peace to you all
The San Juan Family
June 12, 2013
They were known by me and many simply as "The Burlingames". An amazing, talented, sweet, loving. smart and beautiful family. And it was Rhea who was always quietly leading and guiding. I will always remember playing the organ for mass and looking out to see the five of them walking in all neatly pressed, dressed and of course smiling - the Rhea smile. Those days at Resurrection live deep within my heart and soul and Rhea, Tracy, Kelly, Paige and Caryn are all there. Much love to all of you. I so wish I could be there to play for her Mass. Much love
Matthew Rimmer
June 12, 2013
So sorry for your loss Caryn. You and your entire family are in my thoughts and prayers.
June 12, 2013
I have so many wonderful memories of Rhea - too many to write about. Know that we will all miss her and her loving, kind heart. Even my kids knew who she was and what role she played in my childhood. Hugs to you Paige, Caryn, Tracy, Kelly, Amy, Cheri and Bill. You have another angel looking over you all.
Kerry Boggus
June 12, 2013
I have known Caryn since I was 10 years old and her mom just as long. She always welcomed me into her home as one of her own. I was so sad to hear of her passing. She left behind beautiful daughters and grandchildren. She will be missed.
Susan Savino
June 12, 2013
Beautiful Girls and family, I had the pleasure and privilege of watching you all grow as "across the street neighbors" in Arlington oh so many years ago under the loving care of your sweet Mom who I am proud to have known. May you find some comfort and peace in knowing your Mom touched many lives. My prayers are with you all.
Laura Schnorr Warwin
June 12, 2013
To Cheri, Wes, Megan, Brandon and the entire Eshelman family-We hope the sweet memories spent with her continue to bring comfort to all of you now as you go through this very difficult week. Her life of achievements and dedicated service to her community was extraordinary! What a blessing it must have been for her to have such a wonderfully loving and devoted family around her until God finally called her home. We send all of you our love, support, and many extra hugs today too!
Bill and Janelle Hayes
June 12, 2013
Remembering your family and a lot of great memories from the 1980's when all you girls stayed with me after school. Your mother was truly a wonderful and inspiring person. May God's peace be with you all.
Virginia Miliusis
June 12, 2013
We didn't know your Mom very well, but she was always so kind and sweet to us. She always had a big smile on her face. I know you'll miss her terribly but she's with our Heavenly father now. What an awesome place to be. May God grant his peace that passes all understanding to your family. We love y'all.
Cliff & Lisa Vann
June 12, 2013
I'll always remember here with that big smile. What a wonderful woman.
Erica Jordan
June 12, 2013
I'll always remember her with that big smile. What a wonderful woman.
Erica Jordan
June 12, 2013
Rhea touched so many lives!
Eternal rest grant unto her O Lord, and may the perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul and all the souls of the faithfully departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace, Amen.
Dave & Michelle Kersch
June 12, 2013
I wasn't lucky enough to meet Rhea, but I know what an incredible woman she was because I'm lucky enough to know her daughter Tracy. Rhea passed down all the amazing, wonderful qualities that helped create one of the kindest, most loving women I know. She passed down qualities that helped create her incredible grandchildren. Qualities and love that will be seen in generations to come.
Ellen Kahara
June 12, 2013
Bill and Family. My deepest sympathy to all of you on your loss of your loved one. My thoughts and prayers are with you. May God give you all peace.
Richard (RT) Harris
June 12, 2013
May the love of friends and family carry you through this time...your family is in our prayers.
Robert & Melinda Knight
June 12, 2013
Missing that smile & twinkling eyes dear Rhea! Much love to the family and we'll miss our biggest JTGer, John & Dana Thomas @>--
June 12, 2013
Rhea was truly one of the most extraordinary women I have ever had the honor to know and work alongside of in our effort to free the world of MS. She was always graceful, warm, kind and loving to the staff and though we may not have told her often enough, a true inspiration to us all. She will be forever missed but we are all better for knowing her. Love to Bill and the family. Warmly, Jennifer Lee
Jennifer Lee
June 12, 2013
Family,
Rhea was such a fine woman! I admired so many things about her, and I see those qualities reflected in her daughters - intelligence, kindness, determination, and humor. You are carrying her beautiful spirit with you, and everyone you know is grateful to be touched by it.

Love and sympathy to you all.
Renee Buffington
June 12, 2013
Dear Cheri, Wes, Megan, and Brandon,
Our thoughts and prayers are with you as you say goodbye to your mom and grandmother. What a wonderful woman she was as relayed in her story! May God comfort you all in this difficult time and in the days to come, may the joy of the memories make you smile again.
With love,
Stephen, Kathy, and Landrue Hill
June 12, 2013
Mrs. Burlingame you are loved by many of Tracy's friends from her Resurrection years. Your intelligent and beautiful daughters are a priceless legacy. Not many people can be mom, father, provider, friend, and grandmother all rolled up into one. You were a multi-tasked master before they ever coined the phrase. It was an honor to have known you and be friends with your oldest daughter. Sending my thoughts, prayers, and hugs to all of your family.
Dinorah Velez
June 12, 2013
Rhea will always be an inspiration to me and will be missed by everyone here at the Society.
Corrina Steiger
June 12, 2013
Our thoughts and prayer are with you as you grieve the loss of your loved one and celebrate her life and the life she now has pain free in His arms. It was an honor to know her.
Larry & Brenda Hersey
June 12, 2013
Family,
Our thoughts and prayers are with you as you grieve the loss of a loved one and celebrate her life and the life she now has in His arms.
Larry & Brenda Hersey
June 12, 2013
May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived.
Rick Boucher
June 12, 2013
Cheri,

Many prayers and much love to you and your family during this difficult time. You were blessed to have such a wonderful mother.

Love,
Mary Beth Smith
Mary Beth Smith
June 12, 2013
TO RHEA FAMILY WHOM I HAD THE CHANCE TO MEET AND WORK WITH HER, SHE WAS A LOVING AND CARING PERSON TO ALL. I WILL MISS HER. FAMILY KEEP THE FAITH AND TRUST IN GOD.
MARYNELL BROOKS AND FAMILY
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