Continued: Biographical Sketch from Carolyn Cole (20 July 2016):
Donald Wells Sheedy
My father was raised by Herman Sheedy, his father. There was a housekeeper who worked full time also. She would blow a whistle when she wanted Dad to come inside. They lived in the Laurelhurst neighborhood, in Northeast Portland at some point. Don’t know when really, as Dad went to Couch Grade School and Lincoln High School, both west-side schools.
I believe he grew up in one of the two houses Herman owned. Both were turn of the century Victorian houses. Aunt Betty told me they were grand homes before Herman turned them into small apartments. Each had three stories, and so there were four apartments on the top floor, four on the second floor, and three on the main floor. I believe Herman and Don lived in the biggest apartment on the main floor. Before his early death, Herman purchased a home with a great view of Northwest Portland and the Willamette River. It was up on a hill above NW Portland. I don’t think he ever lived there.
I believe Dad went to Los Angeles with his father in his early childhood. I remember seeing photos of him on an ostrich at some sort of zoo.
He was a boy scout and a good student, disciplined and studious. Before the war, he was studying pre-med at University of Oregon in Eugene. Dad told me that in high school he and one of his friends blew up the science lab at Lincoln High. He laughed about it, so I don’t think it was serious. He did get in trouble with the teacher, however.
He also told me that as a young man, perhaps the summer between high school and college, he lived downtown in an apartment with a couple of friends. They had a good time and ordered their groceries delivered. When the bills came for all the groceries, they were horrified how much they had spent.
I know that Dad had a girlfriend named Clarissa. They were engaged to be married, and for some reason she committed suicide. I heard that he grieved a lot. My father didn’t talk about it. My mother told me that story.
At the same time as Dad was grieving, my mother was engaged to marry a guy from the neighborhood named Herman Jobelman. He was Jewish and they were in love, but his parents disapproved of him marrying a woman who wasn’t Jewish. He gave in to their wishes, and he broke the engagement with my mother.
So my parents ran into each other in the neighborhood (Northwest Portland) where they both lived. They had sort-of known each other all through their childhoods. Mother went to different schools than Dad, but they both lived in the same area. My mother told me that she felt sorry for him because of the girlfriend’s death. They got together and at some point became a couple.
This next part is very mysterious to me. I will try to explain it clearly.
My parents got married secretly in Salem. She was living in Salem working, probably as a secretary or clerk. He was living in Eugene going to college. They married secretly in the fall. She moved to Eugene with him then. No one in the family knew they were married except both their mothers. I have heard that Dad’s mother, Phila, visited them when they lived in Eugene that year. My mother’s mother, Allie, was unhappy about the marriage for some reason. I do not know why, but she never liked my dad. It may have had something to do with that secret marriage. She never told me why.
I learned of the secret marriage as a teenager. My mother told me. She did not tell me why they kept it a secret, but she told me her mother was against the marriage.
The next year, about ten months after the first marriage, they had a church wedding in Portland. Mother kept the secret about her marriage to my dad from her closest friend, her sister, Mae. Mae only learned about it recently and was quite shocked. I think it may have been during the time Mae had her first child, and she was busy with her baby. This was around the time of Pearl Harbor.
One of my father’s traits was to try to help women in need.I learned this in the mid-60s when he and I lived together for a couple of years. The women he dated all needed his help. I think that was attractive to him. The woman who he eventually married, Willetha, was also a needy type of woman, but she had lots of good traits and it was a better choice than any other possibilities.
The reason I bring this up is that he may have married my mother because she was pregnant by the boyfriend who broke the engagement. Or,Dad could have gotten her pregnant himself.
This did not occur to me until later. In 1963 when I was in high school, I got apart-time job as a cashier in a movie theatre. One night a young woman bought a ticket. We were both completely speechless, as we were mirror images of each other. We had a few minutes to talk about it. She was about four or five years older than me, and she told me she was originally from Eugene.
I have wondered about whether my parents gave a child up for adoption for many years.
Dad went to college at University of Oregon.
My father was a serious man. He didn’t laugh much, but he also was very mild in temperament. He seldom was angry.
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