William Frank Sheffield, our dearest sweet husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, passed away Wednesday March 29 from pancreatic cancer at the age of 84. We had the privilege of being gathered around him as he passed, and of experiencing many sacred moments together in the four weeks previous. We know he was joyously received on the other side by his parents and his Savior.
Those who were privileged to know Bill Sheffield understand that the best word to describe him is “love.” All his other great qualities spring from the root of that pure love. He showed us what integrity, humility, gentleness, generosity and service look like. What wisdom, ingenuity, persistence and patience look like. What fatherhood, leadership, and calm reasoning look like. What selflessness, compassion, empathy and genuine kindness look like. What cheerfulness, good humor and finding the positive in every circumstance look like. What being a devoted, honorable husband looks like. What forgiveness, faithfulness and purity look like.
Bill was born March 10, 1939 to Boyd and Norma Wood Sheffield, the oldest of five children. He grew up in Brigham City, Utah. As a young boy, with his father serving in WWII, he felt a great responsibility and desire to care for his mother. As a young teenager, he determined that he wanted to love God and follow the example of Jesus Christ in all things. As a man, he lived by principles and integrity.
Bill graduated from Box Elder High School in 1957 and then studied for a year at the University of Utah, where he was the Outstanding Freshman Math Student. He then transferred to Brigham Young University before serving as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Norway from 1959-1962. He loved the Norwegian people and loved teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Following his mission, he returned to BYU to graduate cum laude with a B.S. in Physics. Here he met his beloved wife, Susan Biddulph. They knew almost immediately that they wanted to marry, and were sealed in the Idaho Falls, Idaho LDS temple on August 30, 1963. Their complementary skills made them a wonderful team. They shared a desire for many children and a home where the Spirit of God was always present. Their eight children were blessed to grow up in a home where love, service and peace abided.
After their marriage and graduation from BYU, Bill and Susan moved to Ames, Iowa, where Bill completed his Masters degree in Physics at Iowa State University from 1965-1967. Here they formed many important, meaningful friendships that have lasted throughout their lives.
Bill’s professional career began as an instructor of physics at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, and a part-time consultant for 3M. He taught from 1967-1972 before beginning a full-time position with 3M as a research physicist, where he worked for 30 years until his retirement. Bill was an incisive analytic thinker and problem-solver. He delighted in figuring things out. To solve problems, he believed in deliberate analysis, testing out possibilities, and remaining flexible to try a different way. As a scientist at 3M, he invented new products and solved problems that others had not been able to. He was also quite skilled at solving people problems, which he did repeatedly in his family, church, and community. He was more than an analytic thinker and a scientific observer. He was also an intuitive thinker and deep listener.
Bill’s leadership and problem-solving skills were felt in the community as he served on the District 622 school board, Board of Directors of East Communities Family Counseling Center, District 622 Foundation Board, Chairman of Citizens Advisory Committee on Curriculum, Parents Booster Club president, PTA president. He also received the state’s Educational Heroes recognition. He served on the Oakdale City Planning Commission, the Oakdale Athletic Association as baseball director, coached basketball and T-ball, and was recognized with the WCCO radio station Good Neighbor award. More recently, he was on the HOA board in his home neighborhood.
Bill loved Scouting and was heavily involved, earning a District Award of Merit, Outstanding Unit Commissioner for Indianhead Council, and the Silver Beaver Award, among his many leadership positions.
It was always very important to Bill that everyone have a voice in the many meetings he attended. His calm reasoning and unwavering integrity defused many confrontational situations. Bill was not a loud or boisterous man. He preferred to sit back and take in everything that was happening. But he was never afraid to speak up and stand firmly for his principles. His wisdom and insight were highly valued by many. His hallmark phrases were: “What is the principle?”; “Let’s stay flexible”; and “The Lord requireth the heart” (D&C 64:34).
His membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints defined and touched every part of Bill’s life. He has never been without a calling, including a counselor in the mission presidency, teaching seminary and Gospel Doctrine classes (which were very dear to his heart), Bishop, and various presidencies and councils. His callings to be a temple presidency counselor and recorder, a temple sealer, and a stake patriarch are a cherished part of his later life. He and Susan worked together in these callings, making many loving friendships, again being unified by a purpose greater than themselves and immersed in holy things.
The facts and details of Bill’s life are interesting and impressive. They help illustrate the kind of person he was. But the heart of who Bill was is his profound love of God, Jesus Christ, and his family. His driving force was to serve Heavenly Father by serving others. As his children, we have felt that all our lives in his calm and cheerful temperament, his determination to provide a way for each of us to participate in activities that were important to us, teaching us to work and care for each other and others, and sharing sacred moments and feelings. Even the house he built in Oakdale, Minnesota, where we lived most of our growing up years, was designed specifically to bring happiness to his children. The long hallway where we had races; the open space around the piano where we ran in circles; the large kitchen table where we ate together as family and shared hundreds of meals with missionaries, church members, friends, and the many people who lived with them over the years; the fireplace where we took family pictures and built villages on the hearthstone with blocks Dad handmade for us, and hung 10 stockings every Christmas; the large yard where we rode bikes and explored and climbed trees, went sledding in the winter and row-boating in the spring, raked leaves and shoveled snow and had countless work projects; the glorious playroom—Dad’s brilliant inspiration—where we ran and played basketball, pin-guard, volleyball, catch, tennis, dodgeball, and ping-pong, which provided thousands of hours of joy to hundreds of kids; the large living room where we played football and sang songs, gathered to read scriptures and have weekly planning sessions and family councils, and to kneel together in family prayer.
Bill always had a quiet good cheer, quick to smile and throw out a joke to lighten the mood. Even at the end, for as long as he was able to speak, he was joking with his family. Some of his favorite things were back-tickles and ice cream.
He faced his cancer diagnosis with the same calm, peaceful, patient faith he had been developing all his life. He never complained about all he suffered. His every concern was for his dear Susan.
Thank you to Jodi and the team at Allina Hospice, and Bradshaw Funeral Home, for their kind and tender care of our daddy.
Bill is survived by his wife, Susan; children, Michael (Darby), Barbara (Patrick) Thibaudeau, Scott (Kelly), Sherry (Scot) Allen, Rebecca (Travis) Gerber, Amy (Tom) Callister, Stephen (Katie), and Shelley (Blair) Cheney.
Sisters Shauna Walton and Jeanie Peck, brother Michael (Sue) Sheffield.
Stephanie (Matthew) Thibaudeau Rytting, Jonathan (Ariel) Thibaudeau, Aaron (Savanah) Thibaudeau, Ryan (Lauren) Thibaudeau, Andrew (Emma) Thibaudeau, Nathan Thibaudeau, Mariah (Jacob) Sheffield Wood, Natalie (Jacob) Sheffield White, Elizabeth (Ryan) Sheffield Perry, Whitney Sheffield, Ashley (Caleb) Allen Boyack, Kelsey (Jacob) Allen Roberts, Kaitlyn Allen, Justin Allen, Joshua Allen, Holly Gerber, Jacob Gerber, Stephen Callister, Melanie Callister, Tyler Sheffield, Matthew Sheffield, Emily Sheffield, Sarah Sheffield, Eliza Sheffield, Ruthie Sheffield, Cara Cheney, Conner Cheney
Natalie Rytting, Sarah Rytting, Emily Rytting, Lydia Rytting, Briel Mahan, Dillon Mahan, Aria Thibaudeau, Amelia Thibaudeau, Jameson Thibaudeau, Noah Thibaudeau, Maura White – with 3 more on the way!
Preceded in death by his parents Boyd and Norma Sheffield, sister Sandra Moffett, and great-granddaughter Emory Ray Wood.
Visitation/viewing will be held on Wednesday Apr. 5 from 6-8pm at Bradshaw Funeral Home (2800 Curve Crest Blvd, Stillwater MN). A funeral will be held on Saturday Apr. 8 at 12:00pm, with a viewing from 10:30-11:30am, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (2140 Hadley Ave. N, Oakdale MN).
A graveside service will be held on Saturday, April 15th, 2023 at 2:30 pm at Eastlawn Memorial Hills Cemetery, 4800 N 650 East, Provo, Utah. Gathering at the graveside will begin at 2pm. A reception and luncheon will follow from 3-5pm at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 2900 Timpview Drive in Provo.