During the AO Toronto Convention on June 25, 2023, Richard Rodney accepted AO Honorary Membership on behalf of his late spouse, Sheila, Z"L.
2023 Honorary Membership Committee Report
Committee Chair Michael Tenenbaum
Sheila was not only the proud wife of our fellow Alpha Omegan, Rick Rodney, but Sheila was also the executive secretary of the Toronto chapter of Alpha Omega for almost three decades. Her kindness and generosity were known to all who met and worked with her. She built strong and meaningful relationships with all the local presidents and members. She was the face of AO in Toronto and to many of us at international conventions. Alpha Omega was more than a job. We were all family. Sheila proved a valuable mentor for young members and future leaders as well.
It is my great honour to present her name for Honourary membership in Alpha Omega.
Kind words about Sheila:
Sheila served as the Executive Secretary of Alpha Omega Toronto Chapter for 25 years, from 1982 to 2007, and then helped part-time for another three years afterward.
In the words of her daughter Karen – “What started as a ‘fun thing to help out with’ in 1982 turned into a career that brought her much joy and happiness. She built meaningful and strong friendships with all the AO presidents and members”.
For many, Sheila was the face of AO Toronto for over a quarter of a century. She was thoughtful, pleasant, organized, an invaluable historian of all things AO, and an excellent mentor for young fraters and future leaders of Alpha Omega.
In putting this nomination together, I contacted a few presidents who served while Sheila was Executive Secretary.
Here are just a few of their comments.
Ira Marder - I was a very young frater when I was elected to the Line. Sheila's support, guidance, and knowledge made my time and role as an Officer for five years much more accessible and infinitely more pleasant. Sheila was always calm, friendly, approachable, and patient. Her expertise and experience with all things related to Alpha Omega Toronto was invaluable.
Lorne Chapnick - Sheila always reminded me that all will be well. "Don't worry."
Steve Zamon - When I think of my fifty-seven years as a member of Alpha Omega in Toronto, one name always comes to mind. Not a president or council member, not a senator or international frater, but always our Toronto Executive Secretary, Sheila Rodney. She WAS Alpha Omega to the core, both locally and internationally. She guided generations of Toronto Presidents and councils in her quiet but efficient manner, always respectfully. Whenever there was a question about protocol, governance, or precedent, someone always said: “Ask Sheila.” She fiercely guarded the archives and was always trying to organize them better. She wore Alpha Omega on her sleeve, perhaps sometimes at the expense of her personal life and family. Her personal life always had an Alpha Omega component, attending International Conventions with Rick and socializing with the many Alpha Omegans worldwide who knew and loved her. Her assistance, guidance, and excellent suggestions made my presidency easy. She had a way of “upping your game” yet never criticized me when I might not have made the best decision. I think my fellow past presidents would agree. I truly believe in so many ways; she was why Toronto Chapter grew and prospered throughout the years.
Stan Markin – Sheila always had an affinity for International AO and was a strong supporter of theirs.
Shiela’s relationship with Alpha Omega did not start in 1982 when she became Executive Secretary. It started much earlier than that. Rick was significantly involved in the Pi chapter when she and Rick were dating. When AO International had its convention in Toronto in 1964, Rick and Sheila were in the thick of it (I’m not sure she was even Sheila Rodney yet. She might still have been Sheila Abbey).
This was the start of The Rodney Family’s life-long commitment to Alpha Omega and the beginning of Sheila being beside Rick at every step as he took on increasingly more AO leadership locally and internationally.
Alpha Omega was a part of Sheila’s life as a young adult. It was very much a part of who she was. Upon her passing, Rick, and his children, knowing what Alpha Omega meant to Sheila, generously donated a charitable component to our local Humanitarian Award. The award has been renamed in her honour. It is a beautiful legacy.
So, what’s my story, and why am I writing this nomination for her? During my years as a new graduate and a young Alpha Omegan, Sheila saw something in me, some potential. She often sought me out at meetings or when I stopped at the office. She asked about me, how I was doing, encouraged me, answered my questions, and helped me. She taught me about the essence of Alpha Omega. Truthfully, Sheila was among my most important early relationships as an Alpha Omegan. Without her influence and encouragement at the outset, I don’t know if I would have gone on to local Alpha Omega leadership. I owe her great thanks, as my involvement in AO has been incredibly fulfilling. I can think of no better way to express my gratitude than to help her receive Honourary Membership in Alpha Omega.
She was a treasure, the face that comes to my mind when I think of Alpha Omega. Stan Markin said it best – It was only because Sheila didn’t have a dental degree that she could not be a member of AO. But Sheila was indeed an Alpha Omegan.
Sheila was as much an Alpha Omegan as many of us and more than most of us. It would be a wonderful gesture if she were recognized as such by being given an Honourary Membership to AO, even if it will be granted posthumously.