Sheila Lue McNeil Thurston was born December 5th, 1947 to William Rosel McNeil and Mary Lue Hansen in Logan and returned peacefully to her Heavenly Father February 15th, 2018 from complications of Congestive Heart Failure.
Sheila met the love of her life in Jackson Hole Wyoming and loved telling the story of how they met. They were married in the Logan Temple on July 7th, 1970, a day that was purposely chosen to help Sheila remember the date although it didn’t seem to help much. Their 48 years of marriage were filled with many great times and are the proud parents to 5 amazing children.Throughout her marriage she was buoyed up by Gary’s calm demeanor and strength. She graduated from the University of Utah with a Bachelors in Elementary Education. As a way to be able to stay home with her children she taught preschool out of her home for 10 years, it was during this time as a preschool teacher that she began to see the need to educate the community about special needs children. Partly due to this she decided to go back to school and pursue a Master’s degree from BYU in special education. After she graduated she taught at Payson High School for 22 years where she mentored, cared for and inspired many students to stay in school and want more for themselves. Anyone who knew Sheila, knew she was always quick to welcome anyone in need and had the ability to see beyond the exterior by exemplifying the love of our Savior and opening her home to all--freely giving them a place to call home and belong.
She was a devoted member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and humbly lived what she believed. She grew to have a deep testimony and love for the prophet Joseph Smith. She cherished the Mormon history tour and time spent traveling to Nauvoo with Gary and some of her children that strengthened her testimony.
Sheila wasn’t an exceptional swimmer but wanted her kids to know how to swim so she educated herself and began coaching. She coached Payson High School swimming for 12 years and Payson Swim Team for 30 years. As her kids grew up they began to develop a love for Lake Powell many favorite family memories are centered around that gorgeous lake. She always welcomed whoever wanted to go to Lake Powell at times taking 20-30 teenagers to spend several days at Lake Powell where her laundry bucket of fruit salad was a delicacy, floating in her life jacket was a favorite and gracing everyone with her black night gown became tradition.
She had a special way to make everyone feel like a champion. She loved her family deeply and taught her kids how to love and serve and gave so much special emphasis to individuals who struggled and didn’t always fit in the “norm”. She was always working with the youth and welcoming anyone who needed comfort or someone to talk to.
No one would have guessed that her understanding of special needs children would impact her legacy forever as the Thurston family is blessed by several children who have special challenges but as she taught us, everyone does-- and it is up to all of us to love unconditionally.
One of the many sayings Sheila lived by was “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care!”
Sheila’s legacy of caring is evident in her children as they too exude love to others and reach down to lift those whose hands hang low. Sheila was an amazing woman whose infectious laugh and quirky requests will be sorely missed. We will continue to do our best to follow your example and love unconditionally.
She is survived by Gary Thurston, Tara (Daniel) Lundell, Jarom (Rachel) Thurston, Marissa (Blu) Robinson, Heath (Mahogani) Thurston, Alaina (Aaron) Burg. Also, grandchildren, Kindra, Lydia, Emma, Taila, Brooklyn, Savanah, Boston, Camden, Kida, Scout, Koya, and Kycee.
Funeral services will be held Tuesday, February 20, 2018 at 11:00 am at the Mt. View 2nd Ward, 75 South 600 East, Payson. Friends may call at the church on Monday February 19th from 6:00 to 8:00 pm and Tuesday from 9:30 to 10:45 am prior to services. Interment, Payson City Cemetery.