STEVENSVILLE — Sheila Margaret Barlow Hammitt, of Stevensville, passed away on May 3, 2019, in Missoula. A memorial service is planned for May 23 at 11 a.m. at the Stevensville United Methodist Church.
Sheila was born in Ilford, Essex County, England, to Raymond and Margaret Barlow on May 5, 1928; she was the oldest of three children. She completed her schooling at 15, and she started her career as a stenographer for a law firm. Her teen years were influenced by World War II. She would recount the family’s experience of spending an average of four nights a week in the nearby bomb shelter. The next morning, they would go home, get washed up, and report to school, work, maintaining as normal a routine as was possible then. This shaped Sheila’s approach to the rest of her life. She was strong, resilient. She always focused on the big picture, i.e., what was important was duty, honor, family. “Love always makes a way.”
Later she served in the Women’s Royal Naval Service for three years, and then joined her sister to serve in the Royal Army Reserves. (The big inducement was that they could learn how to drive, albeit on a three-ton truck!)
Sheila met her future husband, Joe Hammitt, at a dance at the Royal Air Force (RAF) Base Chicksands, north of London. He was serving in the U.S. Air Force at that RAF base. At the conclusion of his three-year tour in England, he returned to the U.S.A., with his bride and their 11-month-old daughter. One year later, while he was stationed at an air base in Orlando, Florida, they had a baby boy. Joe’s military career took the family from Florida to Illinois, and then to Texas, where he retired.
Sheila retired from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in San Angelo, Texas, and then started a new career as the Wedding Chapel Coordinator at the chapel for the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas, where she ultimately retired at the age of 80. She then returned to San Angelo, where she bought her first home in the Rio Concho West retirement community. She made many wonderful friends during those years there.
Four years ago, Sheila moved to Stevensville, to live with her daughter and son-in-law. As her grandson Kyle would say, living in Stevensville was a wonderful epilogue to her life’s story. After many years living in the Texas heat, Sheila truly enjoyed Montana’s seasons and the wonderful community of Stevensville.
Sheila had many talents including cross stitching, crocheting, knitting, and recently she started dabbling in quilting at the age of 90! She left her family many lovely family heirloom pieces, which they cherish.
Everyone who met Sheila was impressed, first, by her English accent, and then by how she conducted herself, like a lady. She loved matching colors and textures in her clothing; she always looked very “smart.” And she had a flair for decoration; she always created a loving, warm, inviting space to call home, where all were welcome. She was devoted to her family and friends and was slow to anger, quick to forgive. She was not perfect, but she loved perfectly!
Sheila is preceded in death by her parents, Raymond and Margaret Barlow; her husband, Joe Hammitt; and her brother, Robert Barlow.
She is survived by her daughter Belinda Hammitt Alkula and her husband, the Rev. Dr. Charles Alkula; her son Robert Hammitt and his wife, Carrie Hathorn Hammitt; her sister, Jacqueline Barlow Rodd and her husband Sonny Rodd and their extended family members in England; her brother’s sons Martin Barlow and Robert Barlow in England; her granddaughter, Lisa Hammitt Hadfield and her husband, Galen Hadfield; her granddaughter, Karen Hammitt Meade and her husband, Isaac Meade; her grandson Kyle Hammitt; and her great-granddaughters, Finley and Madison Hadfield.
The family wishes to extend sincere thanks to the caring, dedicated staff at The Village Health and Rehabilitation Center in Missoula, where she spent her final days; the amazing hospice team at Consumer Direct Care Network Home Health & Hospice, who tenderly guided her and her family through the transition process; the members of the Sapphire Quilters Guild in Stevensville, who gifted her a beautiful “Sunshine Quilt,” which she enjoyed having on her bed at The Village; the loving and supportive church family at the Stevensville United Methodist Church, whose gift of a prayer shawl blessed her and gave her great comfort. Her family thanks all the people who reached out to her and to the family, extending expressions of love and support. At this challenging time, we thank God for our being doubly blessed: We are blessed, and we know it!
The family asks that in lieu of cards or flowers, memorials be given to the Stevensville United Methodist Church, 216 College St., Stevensville, Montana 59870.