Matthew J. Sheehy, Sr., Family Man, Soccer Coach, Educator, WSCHC Pres.
Matthew J. Sheehy, Sr. passed away peacefully on Wednesday, January 31, 2024, at the Center for Hope Hospice in Scotch Plains. Matt was 81 and had been a resident of Westfield since 1979.
Matt was born in New York to Eileen and John Sheehy. He grew up in Manhattan until the family moved when he was in his teens to Breezy Point in Queens. An avid swimmer, Matt was an active member of the beachfront community, working as a lifeguard and serving as a volunteer in the Rockaway Point Volunteer Fire Department. Throughout his life, Matt cherished his time at The Beach and loved swimming in the ocean.
His father, John, was an Irish immigrant from County Cork who imbued Matt with a deep love and appreciation of his Irish heritage. While his mother was born in Albany, her parents were also from Ireland. Matt visited Ireland several times and was close to relatives there. He often marched in the New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade with a contingent from his high school alma mater, the now-defunct Power Memorial. Matt also loved Irish dancing and sought out local céilís.
In his twenties, Matt met Joan Moran while the two were skiing in upstate New York. They were married in 1971 in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, with a reception at the Fort Hamilton Officers’Club. The young couple eventually moved to Green Brook, N.J., and then to Westfield, where they bought their forever home and raised a family.
Initially, Matt worked in construction and then moved into project management. He became manager of facilities for CBS before heading to Rockefeller Center. There, Matt became director of facilities management for the iconic New York City complex, where for years he oversaw the annual lighting of the Christmas Tree.
Matt earned his undergraduate degree from what was then Brooklyn Polytechnic. He earned a graduate degree from Rutgers University and, as a proud alum, was seldom without some piece of clothing that displayed the scarlet “R”. For years, he journeyed three times a week from Westfield to the Rutgers athletic facility for his “swim and gym.”
In Westfield, Matt was well known both for the gift of the gab and for coaching soccer, primarily girls’, from grammar school through to high-school club teams. He remained a passionate soccer fan throughout his life.
But his coaching skills weren’t confined to the soccer pitch. Matt mentored and counseled numerous college and high school students, providing academic, career and life guidance to all who asked. More formally, he was an adjunct professor of architecture, engineering and construction at the New York University Schack Institute of Real Estate. Service was also an important part of Matt’s life. Earlier in his career, he raised funds for Covenant House, the New York charity that helps distressed teens. In retirement, Matt got involved with the Westfield Senior Citizens Housing Corporation, serving for a number of years as its president.
Above all, Matt was devoted to his family, the real focus of his abundant energy. His favorite times were spent with them, whether at The Beach, the lake house in Vermont or home on Stanmore Place.
Matt was predeceased by his beloved Joan, who passed away in 2009; his brother, Sean, who he cared for in later life, and his parents.
He is survived by his daughter, Kerry Ann MacIsaac, and her husband, Matthew, of Scotch Plains; his son, Matthew, and his wife, Kelly, of Scotch Plains, and his daughter, Megan Liriano, and her husband, Eric, of Tewksbury. He will also be deeply missed by his beloved grandchildren, Thomas, Declan, MacKenzie, Madelynn, Matteo and Maria.
A wake was held at Dooley Colonial Home, 556 Westfield Avenue, Westfield, on Sunday, February 4, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. A funeral mass was celebrated on Monday, February 5, at 10 a.m., at St. Helen’s Roman Catholic Church in Westfield. Interment followed at Fairview Cemetery in Westfield.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Rockaway Point Volunteer Fire Department, 20426 Rockaway Point Boulevard, Breezy Point, N.Y. 11697.
February 8, 2024