On Saturday, May 1, 2021, the angels welcomed Lillie Sheehy Watson (92) into their embrace. She died peacefully at home surrounded by her loving family. She was preceded in death by her parents, Andy and Mary Bridget Lagan Sheehy; her brother, William, and sister, Mary D. Sheehy; her husband, Harold Thomas Watson; and three children Emily, Tommy, and Joan.
She is survived by her children, Betty, Peggy (Don), Theresa (Jerome), Tony (Judy), Cecelia (Mike), and James; 15 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
Lillie was born June 12, 1928, at the Sheehy family farm in McEwen, Tennessee. After her marriage to Harold Watson, she moved several times, then settled with her husband and children in 1957 in Paducah, Kentucky, where she lived the remainder of her life. Lillie’s goal was to provide all of her children with a Catholic education, so she and Harold purchased a house within two blocks of St. Thomas More School. All eight children, and many grandchildren, graduated from the St. Mary School System including both elementary and high school degrees.
Widowed at a young age with eight children, she reinvented herself. Her intelligence, strength, and incredible work ethic led to a long career as a respected physical therapy tech at Lourdes Hospital. She was well known for her compassionate care and team spirit. She was also known for sharing sweet treats with her colleagues and bringing small gifts to patients who were struggling.
Lillie’s contributions to Lourdes, her church, and the community did not go unnoticed. She was the recipient of many awards including Lourdes’ Employee of the Year, Lourdes’ Sister Marilyn Keller Award, and was chosen to be a member of the Lourdes Foundation. She was awarded the Sofia Award by the Diocese of Owensboro for her countless work with the church, her devotion to her faith, and the wise example she set for others. In 2018, she received a Kentucky Colonel award for her work with the community.
Lillie did not fully retire until she reached her 80th birthday. In retirement, she volunteered at St. Nicholas Family Free Clinic, kept up an active social life with her many friends, and continued to travel extensively. A highlight of her travel was several visits to Ireland to celebrate her Irish ancestry. Her annual bus trips to the shrine of St. Anne de Beaupre’ included stops at many landmarks on the coast. These memorable experiences made for funny and heartwarming stories that she shared with her children.
Her life was one of laughter and joy with good friends from every race, religion, and culture. She was a model of the richness you gain when everyone can be your friend. She had a wonderful sense of humor and a genuine laugh that made you happy just to hear it. She raised a garden almost every year and canned enough to share with her children. She was sharp as a tack up to her last day, knowledgeable about current events although rarely took a public side, a voracious reader of devotions and Amish romance novels, and used her iPad daily to check in with her extended family and friends. She was an avid UK Wildcats fan and knew each player by name. To all of her family, she was more than a mother and grandmother, she was our biggest cheerleader.
Her faith was the guiding light of her life. She was a liturgical minister and enjoyed taking communion and her love of the Lord to the nursing homes and homebound parishioners. Her lighted votive candles and “prayer pot” were well known to those who asked for her help. Lillie prayed the rosary daily and supplemented her prayer with modeling a life of kindness and generosity that many people have very understandably described as saintly. Our family social media pages are overflowing with condolences from friends near and far who praise her loving heart and her life as a living example of Faith. As a family friend has said, “When she prayed with you, you felt as though God was listening.”
Her home was always open to kids, grandkids, and anyone who needed a good meal. Food was her love language and no one left her house without a good meal. As friends have said, “Her Sunday breakfasts or dinners were a place where anyone could show up and be part of the family for the day.” In addition to family and friends, Lillie has fed well-known politicians, famous musicians, and self-styled dignitaries, but she always seemed happy when it was just us. She was the true north for our large family. No matter where we went, from Amsterdam to Australia, we always knew we could come back to Mama and she would center us in the warmth of her unconditional love.
She was a woman who loved and had compassion and a kind word for everyone and lived a life of faith in action. She was beloved by everyone who knew her. She touched every life she encountered in ways that leave us all struggling to imagine a world without her. She taught us to look for the good in this world.
There will be a visitation at St. Thomas More Church from 10-11 a.m. Thursday, May 6, 2021, followed by a Funeral Mass at Thomas More Catholic Church with Brad Whistle officiating. Burial will follow at 3:30 p.m. at St. Patrick Catholic Church Cemetery in McEwen, Tennessee.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made in her honor to St. Patrick’s Cemetery Upkeep at 175 St. Patrick Street, McEwen, TN 37101 or to St. Mary School System at 1243 Elmdale Paducah, KY 42001.
Online condolences may be left at www.lindseyfuneral.com.