Sheila MacAvoy Block

Date of Birth

March 31, 1931

Date of Death

September 22, 2021

City of Death

Santa Barbara

Sheila MacAvoy Block died peacefully at her Santa Barbara home, Wednesday, September 22, 2021. She was 90 years old.

Sheila was born Sheila Marie MacAvoy in Queens County, a borough of New York, on March 31, 1931. Her parents were Joseph V. MacAvoy and Edna Marie MacAvoy (née McCarthy). Sheila attended parochial schools and then graduated from Queens College of the City University of New York in 1952, majoring in Studio Art. Marriage to William Gibbons, homemaking and raising three children followed. Sheila managed to combine these activities with art and poetry writing, winning several awards for her abstract expressionist paintings. A life long community activist, she participated in volunteerism and fund raising, benefitting the local libraries and schools of her adopted home, Cold Spring Harbor, NY.

In 1976 Sheila graduated from St. John’s School of Law and was admitted to practice in New York and later California after moving to the West Coast. She began her tenure at Northrop Grumman in 1977 as Assistant Secretary and ultimately was promoted to the post of Sr. Vice President & Corporate Secretary. Sheila was the first female to be appointed to the Board of Directors. Sheila also holds the distinction of serving as the first female chairman of the American Society of Corporate Secretaries.

Retirement in 1995 led to relocation to Santa Barbara where she lived with her husband of 20 years, Robert Block. Sheila pursued several interests during this time, serving as President of the Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society, volunteer docent at the Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens and later named to the Casa Serena Board of Directors. An avid traveler and sailor, she adventured with Robert until his death in 2013. Throughout this time Sheila also wrote several short stories and memoirs, some selected for publication in collections.

Sheila leaves behind her children Laura Rowe (and her husband Michael of Santa Monica, CA), Phil Gibbons (and wife Shari of Simi Valley) and Sally Livingston (and husband Josh of Monte Nido, CA) in addition to Robert’s daughters Shannon Calverley of Seattle and Erin Braden (and her husband Chris of Decatur, GA), nine grandchildren and one great grandson. She is survived by her sister Geraldine McCarthy of Silver Spring, MD.

A memorial will be held at the Santa Barbara Woman’s Club, 670 Mission Canyon Rd., Santa Barbara, CA at 3 PM on October 28, 2021.


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