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Sheila Dyson Leach died peacefully on February 10, 2018, surrounded by her family at Westminster Point Pleasant. Born in West Palm Beach on June 18, 1932, Sheila was descended from pioneers of Manatee County, and grew up in Bradenton. She attended Manatee County High School, and was voted "most likely to succeed" for the class of 1950. She earned her college degree from Stetson University, and married Albert (Abby) Knight Leach, Sr. and settled in Bradenton to raise their family. Long a pillar of the Bradenton community, she was a charter member of the Junior League of Manatee County and an active member of the Service Club of Manatee County (Past President), a Sustaining Member of Entre Nous, and an avid lover of books and member of The Contemporary Club. She was a proud member of Delta-Delta-Delta Sorority, the Daughters of the American Revolution and the National Society Colonial Dames XVII Century. She served as a Brownie and Girl Scout Leader in Bradenton for many years. One of the first women to run for public office in Manatee County, she raised environmental awareness in her campaign for County Commission, and helped pave the way for future female successes in politics here. She was a licensed realtor, and involved in her family's real estate development interests, and was a gracious and involved "First Lady" while her husband served as Mayor of the City of Bradenton. She owned and managed a beautiful antique shop, "Carousel Antiques" on Old Main Street, which was lauded nationally for its fine selection and lovely displays. She was a member of First United Methodist Church of Bradenton, where she taught Sunday school for many years. She was an avid and excellent bridge player.
She is preceded in death by her parents, Elizabeth ("Bess") Hine Dyson and Walter Clifton Dyson, her sisters, Barbara and Betty, and her daughter, Betsy.
She is survived by daughter Leslie Swackhamer (Ten Eyck Swackhamer); son Albert Knight Leach, Jr. (Rev. Dr. Jim Merritt); grandchildren Katherine Meehan (Luke Elson), Bronwyn Meehan, and Sarah Swackhamer; and great-grandchild Rhys Elson.
The family is grateful to her large circle of friends, who remained steadfast and involved throughout her illness. A celebration of her life is planned for June. Memorial donations in honor of Sheila may be made to the Manatee Players or Meals on Wheels.
502 Third Avenue West, Bradenton FL 34205
Meals on Wheels Plus of Manatee
811 23rd Ave E Building #2, Bradenton FL 34208