Cover photo for Sheila Estelle Bengtson's Obituary
Sheila Estelle Bengtson Profile Photo

Sheila Estelle Bengtson

d. April 12, 2021

Carbondale, IL – Sheila Estelle Bengtson died on Monday, April 12, 2021 at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale, surrounded by her daughter, Andrea, and family friends, following complications brought on by a fall at the start of the year.

Sheila was preceded in death by her best friend and loving husband Dale in 2019, her parents, and her brother David Gordon. Sheila is survived by a son, Jonathan Blake Bengtson and daughter-in-law Sue, of Victoria, British Columbia; a daughter Andrea Cheryl Robin and son-in-law Stephane, of Stoneham, Massachusetts; four grandchildren, Seren and Rhys Bengtson, and Emma and Clara Robin; her sister Libby Butterfield of Soda Springs, California; and many close friends.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, to Joseph and Edith (Abramson) Gordon, Sheila and her siblings Libby and David grew up in Los Angeles, California when the family moved there when she was young. Sheila graduated from the Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles, receiving a lifetime membership to the California Scholarship Federation for her academic prowess, and went on to receive a B.A. in French at UCLA and a M.A. in Library Science at UC Berkeley.

While living in Berkeley and working as the personal assistant to the University Librarian, she met Dale soon after he returned from a year-long trek across Africa. They were married in 1963 in Rock Island, Illinois where Dale was pursuing his M.A. while Sheila worked as a cataloguer at the public library. The couple then moved to Hartford, Connecticut where Dale completed his Ph.D. and Sheila continued her public library career as the young adult librarian, while also starting a family. The journey continued with a move to Long Island, NY, and then soon afterwards, in 1973, the young family moved to Carbondale when Dale was offered a teaching position at SIUC. Sheila joined the editorial staff of the Southern Illinoisan and stayed for 21 years, overseeing the food and obituary pages of the paper, amongst other duties.

Sheila and Dale had many adventures together over the years, traveling to Europe, Asia, and Australia, and returning often, sometimes for a year at a time, to their beloved and spiritual home of Santa Barbara, California. Sheila enjoyed entertaining, cooking elaborate meals, visiting farmers markets, attending the theater and lectures, and was involved in numerous social organizations. Throughout her life, up to her last days, Sheila was notable for her intense curiosity and fascination about the world and was knowledgeable and well-informed about the arts, society, and culture. She will be deeply missed.

A Celebration of Life service will be held Saturday, April 17 at the Unitarian Fellowship, 105 N Parrish Lane, Carbondale. Visitation 10:30am; Celebration 11am; Reception 11:45am.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions no more than 20 people are allowed into the church along with the requirement of wearing a mask and social distancing. For those who cannot attend, a livestream of the service will be available on

Memorial donations may be made to the Friends of the Carbondale Public Library, 405 West Main Street, Carbondale, IL 62901. Donation envelopes will also be available at the Celebration. A graveside family service will be conducted in Kingsburg, California.

Meredith Funeral Home in Carbondale assisted the family with arrangements. For more information see


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Service Schedule

Past Services


Saturday, April 17, 2021

10:00 - 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship

105 North Parrish Lane, Carbondale, IL 62901

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Celebration of Life

Saturday, April 17, 2021

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Eastern time)


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Limit of 20 people at the service, so the service will be livestreamed. Please see the obituary for the links.

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