Del Mar loses an icon, Sheila McDonnell

Sheila Kaye Rogers McDonnell left us on Sunday, March 4, 2012.

Known for her entrepreneurial qualities and contributions to the community, support of women and passion for people, Sheila was dynamic, never knew a stranger and accomplished.

Born and raised in the Bay Area of Northern California, Sheila moved to Del Mar in 1991. Sheila was a loving mother and beloved wife. A true humanitarian, Sheila celebrated her life to the fullest by being a leader in the community, advocating for women, and helping people realize their goals and self worth. No one was a stranger and she nurtured everyone she met. She was a humble person who placed people first and herself last.

Sheila founded and produced the Women in Business Symposium 13 years ago. She was an active member of the Del Mar Kiwanis for over 17 years. Sheila was the founder of the Ugly Dog Contest 17 years ago, the largest event sponsored by the Del Mar Kiwanis.

Elected president of the Del Mar Chamber of Commerce in 1998, she continued to build the Del Mar chamber and was instrumental in the growth of what is now named the San Diego Coastal Chamber of Commerce.

Sheila was honored with the “Woman of the Year” award in 2009, given by the San Diego Coastal Chamber of Commerce.

Sheila was also a Women’s Advocate of the Year finalist, awarded by the National Association of Women Business Owners.

Sheila was known foremost for her love and contribution to the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club for over 22 years. She served in Group Sales and was “The Queen” of the Horsemen’s lounge. She was instrumental in the education and promotion of horse racing. It was in her blood and she was a proud supporter.

Her wit, humor, intelligence and positive attitude will continue to be a role model for all whose lives she touched. Words cannot describe this wonderful human being who gave so much of herself and asked for nothing in return. Our prayers and memories will continue to keep her alive, close to us, and remind us that life is worth living.

Sheila McDonnell’s Celebration of Life will be held at the Del Mar Race Track’s Paddock on Wednesday, March 21, at 1 p.m.

In lieu of flowers please send donations to the California Equine Retirement Foundation: California Equine Retirement Foundation (CERF), P.O. Box 295, Temecula, CA 92950, 951-926-4190.

Sheila is survived by her husband of 22 years, John McDonnell; daughter Kris Werk; sister Sharon Raymond; Aunt Betty Wiley; cousins Jay Howell and Janet Kiersey; nephews Matthew, Jill and Giani Maresca; half sisters Bobbi, Debra Roddrick, and Stacy Watts; nieces Sheila and Brooke Ruenz; and stepsons Bret and Scott McDonnell.