Sheila Seaman (2019)

Sheila Seaman passed away at home in Leverett on Saturday, July 27 after a long heroic battle with cancer. She was a beloved teacher and researcher at the University of Massachusetts. She was a volcanologist who studied active and extinct volcanoes in Iceland, Maine, Arizona, New Mexico, and Canada. She was an avid runner, gardener, protector of land, plants, and animals, and a serious Bruce Springsteen fan.

Sheila was born in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania to Terry and June Seaman. She attended Lewisburg Area High School and graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 1979. She earned an M.S. from the University of Arizona and a Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico. She was a faculty member at Colgate University for five years and then was an Assistant, Associate, and Full Professor at the University of Massachusetts for 26 years. She was lauded as an enthusiastic teacher of mineralogy and petrology, as an entertaining story-teller, and as a compassionate advisor. She was a great public speaker; her geology talks were crowded with colleagues and students. Sheila was well known for her work on the geology of coastal Maine. She published numerous papers about volcanoes and the evolution of continental crust, the latest of which was submitted from her hospital bed in New York City.

Sheila was a passionate gardener who worked to provide natural habitat and colorful flowers, the larger and wilder the better. She was born to be outdoors. She loved all living things from the smallest of insects to the largest backyard bear, but she particularly loved her pet farm pigs, Herb and Gladys, and her many rescued cats. She helped to start the Homeless Cat Project of western Massachusetts and in her free time, trapped hundreds of feral cats for spay/neuter and resettlement. She rescued dogs, cats, turtles, frogs, and birds of every variety. She was a Board Member of the Rattlesnake Gutter Trust for more than 20 years, having been involved with the preservation of many parcels of land including her beloved East Leverett Meadow. Sheila was also an athlete who ran fifteen marathons and many half marathons. She lost several minutes on her Bay State Marathon time because she had to rescue stranded worms on the marathon route.

She is survived by her husband of 37 years, Michael Williams, her sister and closest friend, Stacy Doorn, by in-laws on both family sides, and by many nieces and nephews. Sheila is well known to all for her bright, compassionate, loving, always forgiving nature. Her family and friends will miss her incredible warmth and sharp sense of humor. Sheila loved life and left it far too early.

Please make donations to your favorite animal shelter or environmental charity or to one of her favorites: the Best Friends Animal Society, Kanab, Utah.

There will be a Celebration of Life for Professor Sheila Seaman
on October 6th Sunday. Please join us!

UMass Amherst Old Chapel
144 Hicks Way, Amherst, MA 01003
1:00 PM to 5:00 PM

The celebration will begin at 1 PM with a welcoming reception with light snacks on the 1st Floor. The formal gathering will begin at 2 pm in the Great Hall upstairs. Please bring stories, poems and songs to share. This will be followed by a reception with family, friends and colleagues with refreshments.

Please RSVP at

Hotel information can be found at…/umassalumni/index.html