By John Dahlia,
Preston County News & Journal
KINGWOOD, W.Va. — Sheila G. Haney, the person who has been called the consistent foundation keeping the Preston County Chamber of Commerce moving forward has died. She was 56.
Chamber President Jessica Miller Lipscomb confirmed Haney’s death in a message sent to all members of the Chamber Board of Directors on Friday afternoon.
Close friends say Haney has been battling illness for more than a year. She was admitted to Ruby Memorial Hospital (WVU Hospitals) in Morgantown on Aug. 10 for a routine gall bladder surgery but, according to co-worker and friend Belinda Metheny, doctors found something suspicious with her liver and performed a biopsy. Metheny said they discovered Haney had what is commonly called, Nonalcoholic Cirrhosis of the liver. Her condition worsened and she was later admitted to UPMC Presbyterian where she never recovered.
“God brought us together eight years ago,” Metheny said of her dear friend. “Sheila and I were best friends.”
Metheny, whose mother passed away prior to her working at the Chamber, said she shared a special bond with Haney.
“She’s always been my rock,” Metheny added. “We knew everything about each other’s lives.”
Haney, a life-long resident of Preston County, graduated from Valley High School in Masontown in 1977. She began working for the Chamber in 2004 as the administrative assistant working for then executive director Kathy Mace.
“She embraced me 100-percent,” Mace said. “She kept me very grounded. Our friendship grew. God blessed me with her.”
Later, Mace moved on from the Chamber to become the Preston County Administrator. Haney was promoted to the executive director. Both Mace and Haney continued to work closely over the years.
“The best thing she brought was consistency,” Mace added. “She had a total devotion to the organization, the board and the businesses who were members.”
Haney’s close friend and former Chamber board president Kim Riley echoed similar sentiment for her dear friend who many say will never be forgotten.
“Sheila was such a great person and great friend,” Riley said. “She was so good at connecting people with businesses and she understood the importance of networking.”
Other board members, current and past, also said Haney was an invaluable asset to the community and organization.
“She took pride in the Chamber and her job,” Former board member and longtime friend Tim Calvert said of Haney.
Kerry Gnik, who has been a Chamber board member for several years, admired Haney’s work ethic.
“One of Shelia’s last personal emails to me was to tell me how happy she was to see our Board of Directors take on, in her words, ‘a whole new energy and enthusiasm,’ Gnik said. “I really think those are the two words that described her. Her dedication and passion for the Chamber and its members was unmatched. Shelia was not just the Chamber director, but was also a great friend.”
Chamber President Jessica Miller Lipscomb, who’s been on the board for the last two years, said she’s known and worked closely with Haney over the years.
“It was a joy working with Sheila,” Lipscomb said. “She was an integral part of our community as the friendly face of the Preston Chamber of Commerce, and was a ray of sunshine in the lives of all who knew her. We will miss her smile, her laughter and her friendship — heaven has gained a beautiful angel. Our love and prayers are with her family.”
Newly appointed board member Megan Allender was most impressed and grateful for what she called, “Sheila’s passion.”
“Sheila had a passion for her work that was evidenced by the smile on her face, her positive attitude toward others and the enthusiasm she showed for each day,” Allender said. Although she showed an unmatched commitment and excitement for her work in our community; her true passion was her family. Colleagues and fellow Prestonians have lost a beautiful soul, and those whose lives she touched will be forever grateful.”
Haney is survived by her husband of more than 30 years, Larry Haney, three children; Logan, Laura, and Garrett and two grandchildren.