Amesbury High School loses ‘heart and soul’ to Sheehan | New

AMESBURY – Amesbury High School has lost a woman whom the superintendent called his “heart and soul”.

Jeanne Sheehan, a self-proclaimed ‘lunch lady’, worked in the school cafeteria for 23 years but died on June 1 at Anna Jaques Hospital while surrounded by her family.

The cafeteria manager, 60, is survived by her husband of 37 years, Peter, three children and three grandchildren.

Superintendent Elizabeth McAndrews said she met Sheehan when she came to the district as athletic director 16 years ago.

“She was truly the heart and soul of high school,” McAndrews said. “She was an incredible, one-of-a-kind woman.”

Cafeteria assistant manager Karen Clark said she was three days older than Sheehan, they both came from local families with nine children and were lifelong friends.

“We always joked that we were twins because we could always finish each other’s thoughts or actions without ever having to say a word,” she said.

The two friends became colleagues about 20 years ago when Sheehan asked Clark to come work in the cafeteria at Amesbury High School.

“We could work a full six-hour shift without saying a word to each other, but we always knew each other’s moods,” Clark said of his late friend. “It’s really, really hard to have lost her so suddenly. She was just the dearest friend, the best manager and the best accomplice here in the kitchen. I could go on forever and ever.

Only a handful of women work in the school cafeteria, so Sheehan managed a “close-knit group,” according to Clark.

“Losing a friend is hard, but losing someone you’re side by side with every day is something I can’t even imagine yet,” Clark said.

Anne Nadeau had known Sheehan since they were both in second grade. They also worked together at Amesbury High School.

Nadeau said Sheehan was a trustworthy friend with whom she took many road trips.

“We had a great friendship, we really did,” she said.

Sheehan always gave himself, according to McAndrews. The cafeteria manager formed a volunteer group called Kitchen Krusaders that raised more than $3,000 for the Our Neighbors’ Table children’s summer meal program in 2016.

It was often a secret benefactor for students who could not afford their school lunch tabs at the end of the school year.

“If the kids found out, it was by accident because she wanted absolutely no recognition for what she was doing,” the superintendent said. “Jeanne always worked behind the scenes and never wanted to be the center of attention. But she wanted to make sure everyone was.

“She loved children,” McAndrews said. “She was very special and I was really proud to be her friend. Every day is different here right now,” she said.

A charity to help support needy Amesbury Public School students has been set up in Sheehan’s honor and donations can be made at

The GoFundMe campaign was set up on Sunday with an initial goal of $2,500 and $5,925 had already been raised by Tuesday afternoon.

Writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.

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