Obituaries

The most recent submissions appear first. CLICK HERE to create an obituary online or send an email to Eric at ekos@alamedasun.com with text and photos attached. The fee is $75 per 250 words, and $25 per photograph.

Sharyle (Sherry) Blythe Yeates was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, the second of five children of Russell Kenneth and Alberine Larsen Yeates. She was raised in Salt Lake City and the nearby cities of Ogden and Orem.

An independent sort who struggled in school, she dropped out at 15 and went to work, both to support herself as she made her way in the world and then to help provide for her immediate and extended family. At 18, she was hired by a Salt Lake City bank, which launched her lifelong career in banking. 

Her only child, Laurel, was born in 1953. In 1957, she purchased two one-way plane tickets to San Francisco, packed two suitcases with summer clothes, toys and albums by Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra. With $200 in cash and her four-year-old daughter, she moved to a state where she knew no one. To borrow from a John Denver song, she was born in the summer of her 25th year, coming home to a place she’d never been before.

The mother-daughter duo first landed in budget hotel rooms in San Francisco, then crossed the bay to a furnished studio in North Oakland where they used their coats as blankets. It wasn’t long before Laurel blabbed about the sleeping arrangements to neighbors, who opened their hearts, supplied bedding and insisted the pair come over for dinner several times a week. Sherry soon found a job at Bank of California in Berkeley and began to forge bonds with friends who became their “California family.” 

Hungry to advance professionally, she earned her GED and began a gradual ascent in her banking career. She retired from Union Bank in 1992 as a personal banking officer. 

Her early retirement allowed her to embark — solo — on adventures in Europe, Tahiti, Australia, New England and to her favorite destination, South Carolina. She encountered health challenges along the way but quit smoking and attended to doctors’ orders and her common sense, which carried her into her mid-80s. When she was told by a doctor in November that her heart was beginning to slow, she said, “I’m sorry to hear this. It’s been a beautiful life and I’ve loved every minute of it.”

Sherry was cut from a unique cloth. She was cussedly independent; proud to a fault; ferociously principled and honest; notoriously kind and compassionate to children, animals and the elderly; interested in all that life might offer. She was optimistic, believed in the goodness of people and had an amazingly admirable work ethic born of the pioneering spirit of her ancestors. 

She was funny. Her sparkling eyes dazzled, and her unique commentary and reflections about life could startle, surprise and amuse. People always felt welcome in her home. Laurel’s school-girlfriends loved to sit in the Yeates kitchen and discuss school, politics, boys or the world with Sherry. She was the mom who heard teenage confessions and didn’t judge.

Her cookie jar was always full. She loved garage sales and antiquing, especially for miniature dolls. She took great pride in her Christmas tree, festooned with care every winter. She enjoyed long walks with her beloved dog, Nosy, and after his passing, to visit and feed the neighborhood cats. Her garden enchanted all who entered or passed; her quaint cottage was the site of countless dinner parties and potlucks. She got her driver’s license at 40 and relished 42 years of the freedom that driving her own car afforded. 

Her heart finally did just give up — gratefully in her sleep. It was right and it was time, but we all miss her desperately. She was our first stop when we had interesting news to share or a problem to discuss. We can’t begin to list the ways she taught us how to live life, rarely from spoken lessons, more often from her actions.

Sherry is survived by Laurel and her husband John Petersen of Alameda; her granddaughter, Tarrin Petersen-Rice, grandson-in-law Jason Rice, and great-grandson Theo of Salt Lake City; her brother and sister-in-law Philip and Judy Yeates of Murray, Utah; her sister Tamyrra Vowles of Bountiful, Utah; many adoring nieces, nephews and cousins in Utah; and many “family members by choice” in California. She was predeceased by her parents and brothers Ken and Rodger Yeates.

Sherry didn’t care about having a service, but she would feel grateful to have her memory honored through genuine attention paid to a child or an animal, a seized opportunity to lend an ear to someone in need or a random act of kindness. And when you are struck by how beautiful life is, know that in that moment you are seeing the world through Sherry’s appreciative eyes.

If you knew Sherry and have a remembrance you would be willing to share, please write to Laurel at likelaurel@gmail.com.

Ina Mae Stephenson Boyles was born in Boone, Iowa, on Dec. 18, 1927, to a railroad man and his wife who together raised six children during the Great Depression. 

Ina lived a full and deeply meaningful life filled with laughter, butterflies, hot tea, glorious holidays, hilarious missteps, an occasional dumb decision, powerfully expressed opinions, stunning needlepoint, doing the jitterbug with her late husband, beating everyone at card games, a love of stealing her children’s Halloween candy, a stubborn Iowa streak that proved itself most in love deeply protected and so much more. 

For almost 35 years Ina made her beloved Bay Area and Alameda her home. On Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, Ina passed away quietly while in the care of the Alameda Healthcare & Wellness Center on Willow Street.

After working from the time she was 12, the Iowa farm girl met her big city boy in 1946 after her family moved to Melrose Park, Ill. Ina was modeling jewelry in a department store in downtown Chicago when she met a brash, confident Howard Edward Boyles while he was on a lunch break from his job on LaSalle Street. The two married on Feb. 14, 1947, and remained so until Howard’s death from pancreatic cancer in 1995. They had been married for 47 years and 364 days. Together they loved travel, listening to jazz, dancing, playing a great neighborhood game of Tripoly and their family. 

Ina’s three surviving children are: Virginia Lee (Boyles) Birky of Homer, Ark., Richard Howard Boyles of Alameda and Donna Sue (Boyles) Smith of Denver, Colo. Ina was also mother-in-law to Laurie Aldrich Boyles of Alameda, to whom she entrusted her closest feline friend, Tom-Tom, after she could no longer look after him. 

Ina’s adored grandchildren are: Charles Bradford of rural Illinois, Jessica Boyles Lindahl of California, Jennifer Lee (Smith) Smeader of Michigan, Janet Ann (Smith) Hampton of Colorado, Heather Leigh (Smith) Poe of Colorado, Bradley Joseph Smith of Colorado, Russell Alan Smith of California, Daniel Jay Smith of Colorado, Jamie Boyles of California and Michael Boyles of California. She is also survived by 19 great-grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren. 

She survived polio just after her third baby was born. She worked outside the home in order to help make sure her children had many of the experiences and advantages she never had as a child of the Great Depression and a young woman of World War II America: Memorable holidays, lovely Wisconsin vacations from our suburban Chicago home, music lessons (clarinet, piano, drums and French horn) and a clean, safe home where life was never dull. 

She worked for political campaigns she believed in and always taught her children how critical the role of citizen is in America. She was patriotic but not exclusively so — she maintained a deep love for everything British, though she never got the chance to visit. 

After she married, she embraced a bit of Howard’s Irish ancestry by helping make the best corned beef and cabbage dinner to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day every year. Ina also cooked a mean pot of chili, and her tightly-guarded recipe has allowed her daughter, Donna, to win chili cook-offs more than once. Donna also caught her mother’s political bug. 

Ina’s love of books and reading was infused into her son, Rick, who writes poetry and prose and owns his own bookstore in Alameda. Ina shared a love of the finer sounds of life with her daughter, Ginny, and after losing most of her own hearing to illness, Ina celebrated Ginny’s musical gifts with joy and immense pride. 

Each of her children were her works of art — flawed, talented, inspired, funny, loyal, faith-filled and very different, Ina’s children were without a full appreciation of their mother so often that now it is hard for them to fathom. She mastered the art of parenting grown children.

Her faith mattered to her. She loved to drive — fast, especially through the tubes. She earned her masters degree when she was in her 60s, and she kept learning all the way until she died. 
She enjoyed her friends at Independence Village in Alameda where she lived until her fall and surgery in July 2018.

A finer American woman would be tough to find. Ina Mae Stephenson Boyles was a woman concerned about many, many issues. Domestic violence, substance abuse, animal rights, children and child abuse, economic inequality and so much more. Choose one to donate to in her memory for the good of all. 

Her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and friends will gather to remember her and scatter her ashes in California in the coming weeks. 

Growing up in Alameda as the oldest of five children, Gail Shea was a girl scout, swimmer, cheerleader, choir member. She was a fiercely intelligent young woman who graduated from Alameda High and UCLA.

After UCLA she worked at a hippy publishing company, because books and radical ideas were her favorite things. She eventually became an editor at Mathew Bender Law Offices, where she met a lanky guy named Jeff who appreciated smart women, so she married him and stayed married for 34 years.

She and Jeff raised their three sons: John, Kevin and Brian while she maintained her successful career as a freelance technical editor. She loved to structure, read and speak words at a high volume. She used byzantine adjectives to describe quotidian events. If you weren’t reading two books a week you weren’t keeping up, and if you didn’t post online twice a week about a liberal cause, you were probably part of the problem.

Gail was the team parent of every team her sons played on, and her presence was always known. If you were within five miles of a local high school track between the years of 2000 and 2009, you heard her yelling one of her son’s names. She had a gift for projecting her voice above all others. The only thing louder than her words was her laughter.

She enjoyed making complex quilts for earthquake victims in Japan (pictured below) while cooking gourmet dishes for 10 people and cranking up Van Morrison. She enjoyed making her backyard garden into a hippy paradise and illegally planting California poppies at the Albany Bulb, though if you know anybody in the Albany Parks Department don’t tell them that. She was only able to dodge the authorities through her discretion. 

She enjoyed her little dog Riley, because he is the greatest dog to ever live.

She loved architecture, beautiful maps, the Berkeley hills, strong women, liberals, select conservatives, the poor, the city and people of Alameda, swimming, kayaking, taking Dramamine so she could go kayaking, ice cream, Mexican food, telling people her opinion, mystery novels written by Scandinavians with hard-to-pronounce names, crying at the sight of homeless people and the play Hamilton, which she saw recently and was more than willing to slip into any conversation about it.

When she walked into a room you knew it. Now that she has left, we are all less for it. 

Her celebration of life will take place at the Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda, Berkeley, this Sunday, March 3, from 1 to 5 p.m. All are welcome.

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