Sheila E. Kiviat was born September 28, 1936 in Passaic, NJ. She was raised by loving parents who valued tradition and education, and loved the independence she found at Syracuse University, where she earned a BS degree in speech communications and specialized as a therapist for children with cerebral palsy. It was at Syracuse that she met Jack Kiviat, a football player from Brooklyn with a big accent and even bigger heart, and defied anyone who thought he was not the perfect man for her by marrying him on February 28, 1959. She remains the love of his life to this very day.
They moved thirteen times during their marriage, and it was Sheila who selected, packed, unpacked and made beautiful all those thirteen homes that they shared. In Pittsburgh, when the kids were mostly grown, she took that natural sense of style and began a career in interior design that saw her enter both residential and commercial markets. She was really good at it and had a lot of fun with her partner Dee, and later with the co-workers and associates she met after continuing her work in Decatur, Illinois.
While she enjoyed her job, Sheila’s focus was always on the family first. She was endlessly proud of her three children and always thought of Susan, Karen and Alan as her life’s best work. She cheered loudly for every success, consoled and gave hope through every mistake. And unlike her own parents, she was able to get to know her all of her grandchildren well, and Kira and AJ are her legacy. She was happiest when the family was together, whether away on vacation, at the dinner table or just somewhere in the house. Some of the very best times were spent after dinner, everyone laughing and playing card games of all sorts and drinking icy cold vodka shots (hers only half-full, as she’d request) into the wee hours. Sheila was an absolutely fabulous cook, and her meals will be talked about for years to come.
She was classy and smart and loved to read. She did the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle each week her entire adult life, usually to completion and always in ink, and no one appreciated a good pun and wordplay more than she did. She was a longtime fan of Masterpiece Theater and loved Downton Abbey, liked listening to Steely Dan and Mark Knopfler, and really enjoyed traveling with Jack to places near and far.
Before she left us, she told us that she had no regrets in this world, she’d had a good run. We know she meant it, and find comfort in these words every day.
She is survived by her husband Jack, her children Susan, Karen and husband Joe Hancock, and Alan and wife Mary Neale, granddaughter Kira Kiviat and grandson AJ Hancock.