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Life Story / Obituary
As her family and friends can attest, Sheila Hood truly understood the secret to a life well lived. She loved without restraint and, in so doing, touched the lives of everyone around her. Sheila’s faith was a cornerstone in her life. It strengthened her during even the toughest times. She considered family to be her most valuable treasure and it was when surrounded by their love that Sheila truly knew she was abundantly blessed. Dearly loved, Sheila Marie Mayfield Hood will be forever missed.
The 1940s are remembered as a time of trial and triumph in American history. For African Americans, everyday life was a reminder of Jim Crow laws and unwritten racially biased social codes. This was also a time of hope that African Americans involvement in World War II would achieve a “Double Victory” over Hitler’s totalitarianism abroad and prejudice at home. It was also during this time that Orlando and Hazel (Sumner) Mayfield were excitedly awaiting the birth of their new baby. On June 14, 1943 they joyfully welcomed their daughter, Sheila, into their hearts.
She was raised in Haughville, a neighborhood of Indianapolis IN, alongside her siblings, Paula, Dorian, Orlando Jr., and Onita. Sheila’s father supported his growing family by first toiling diligently at a meat packing plant then, later, at a pharmaceutical company. Her mother mastered her role as a homemaker until later working at RCA. Like many of her generation, as the eldest child, Sheila was often a secondary authority figure in her home.
Sheila fell in love with music at a young age after often hearing her father play the piano. She really began to flourish during her time at the famed African American Crispus Attucks High School, where she played the violin for the All City Orchestra. She also participated in student government and served as Vice President of the National Honor Society. Sheila graduated high school in 1960 and then attended
Indiana State University. She became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., and in 1964 obtained a degree in Elementary Education.
New and exciting changes were on the horizon for Sheila when her Aunt Odessa introduced her to Julius Hood. With the desire to start a life together, Sheila and Julius were married in 1964. The newlyweds settled in Kalamazoo, Michigan and Sheila began working in the Kalamazoo Public Schools system. Over the years, her family grew to include three children, Julius Jr., Stephanie, and Marcus. Sheila considered them to be the center of her life and she guided them with the same principles of love and responsibility with which she had been raised. Sheila knew the importance of raising well-rounded children. She frequently took them to the symphony orchestra, plays, museums, and zoos. Her children were often awakened on Saturday mornings to the sound of Classical music. Sheila enjoyed family trips. One might even say she had an adventurous side. She enjoyed the thrill of roller coasters, trips in the motor home that included overnight stays at campgrounds, participated in “one” hunting excursion, and dared to canoe at nine months pregnant.
Sheila was thrilled to become a grandmother and years later a great-grandmother. She gained the loving nickname, “Nana” after her first grandchild, Tarasha was born. Her grandchildren can agree that Nana was the definition of a “hands-on” grandmother. She made it a priority to be present at many of their extracurricular activities such as football games, swimming competitions, orchestra concerts, or show choir competition. She exposed her grandchildren to various cultures thru books, museums, plays, and musicals such as the Broadway hit, Wicked. They enjoyed frequent visits to the beach and countless summer visits to the strawberry and blueberry fields to pick berries.
Sheila’s love for learning never waned, as she eventually earned her Master’s degree from Western Michigan University. During her storied professional career, she taught elementary education for over 35 years. After retirement, Sheila devoted more time to giving back to the community by instructing adults at the Kalamazoo Literacy Council. She also volunteered at the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, the Kiwanis program, and community projects through her church.
Sheila’s church family also held a special place in her heart. She remained an active member at Bible Baptist Church for over 40 years. She directed the Youth Choir for many years, participated in the Bell Choir, and played the piano. The bond between Sheila and her church became even more evident after she suffered a stroke in 2017. She was showered with an abundance of support from her brothers and sisters in Christ. Pastor Lavender and his wife visited Sheila while Rehabilitating in Mobile, Alabama. After moving to Indianapolis, IN to continue her rehabilitation, she had numerous visits from church members. Sheila received many cards and phone calls and was grateful for the love she received during one of the hardest times in her life.
She had many hobbies that kept her busy in her spare time. She was an avid reader of mysteries, self-improvement books, and military fiction such as Tom Clancy. Sheila was comfortable in the kitchen, loved trying new dishes, and enjoyed entertaining guests in her home. She liked to stay active by going to Tai-Chi and water aerobics classes at her local gym. Sheila enjoyed board games, excelling in Scrabble as she was a schoolteacher and could score points easily, much to the chagrin of her opponents. Sheila often took the time to make someone’s day by sending them cards on special occasions, holidays, or just with some words of encouragement, creating each one with a unique message and purpose.
Sheila was an eager traveler, never needing a lot of preparation to get on the road for another adventure. Her most memorable trips included visiting Jamaica with her longtime friend, Linda Comer, Panama with her close friend and sister in Christ, Maxine Gilling, Cancun for a class reunion with her beloved “Golden Girls” circle from high school, snow birding in Gulf Shores with her sister Dorian Pinner, and visiting Hawaii. She especially loved the beach and the ocean. Sheila passionately believed that one could learn anything anywhere, and she made sure that all her trips had an educational value.
All who knew Sheila Hood would agree that she had a heart of gold and a truly giving spirit. She always made sure those around her knew they were loved and valued in ways both great and small. Sheila leaves behind a priceless legacy that her loved ones will proudly carry on in her footsteps.
Shelia Hood, age 77, lovingly sustained and surrounded by neighbors, friends, and family, departed this earthly domain on October 4, 2020. Sheila was preceded in death by her parents. Surviving are her children: Julius Hood Jr., Stephanie Hood, and Marcus Hood; grandchildren: Tarasha Humphrey, Courtney Hood, and Avery Hood; great-granddaughter: Saida Humphrey; siblings: Paula Mayes, Dorian Pinner, Orlando Mayfield Jr., and Onita Mayfield; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins. Funeral services will take place on Thursday (OCT 15) at 11 a.m. at Bible Baptist Church, 1700 N Drake Rd, Kalamazoo, MI. Visitation will be held one hour prior. Burial will take place at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, IN on Friday (OCT 16) at 1 p.m.
Visit Sheila’s personal webpage at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com where you may archive a favorite memory or photo and sign her online guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Kalamazoo Literacy Council or Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra. Arrangements by Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 269-375-2900.