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Sheila L. McGovern, 54, a business executive for two decades, dies

Ms. McGovern advised client companies on how to implement organizational change and get up to speed on digital technology. She was a principal in Ernst & Young LLP.

Sheila L. McGovern
Sheila L. McGovernRead moreCourtesy of the McGovern Family (custom credit)

Sheila Lynn McGovern, 54, of Wayne, a business executive for two decades, died Friday, Dec. 13, of ovarian cancer at home.

Since March 2017, Ms. McGovern had been a principal in Ernst & Young LLP, a professional services company with offices here and abroad. She worked in the advisory services department, assisting clients with special business transformation projects.

Those projects included implementing organizational change, providing professional growth opportunities for employees, and introducing new digital technology, according to a 2018 online biography. She had recently written a web-based operational guide for payroll managers.

Before joining Ernst & Young, Ms. McGovern was a senior project manager with International Business Machines Corp. Her family said in a statement that Ms. McGovern applied “her unique wit and incredible smarts” to her work life at IBM and Ernst & Young, “building a reputation as an accomplished and respected executive.”

“I used to work under her at IBM,” Ritesh Mehta of Pleasanton, Calif., posted in an online condolence book. “She was a great leader, inspired all of us to deliver at our best. It is very tragic that she lost her life at such a young age. The world is going to miss her, totally.”

Born in Philadelphia in 1965, Ms. McGovern was the daughter of Michael McGovern and Patricia McFadden. She grew up in Berwyn and graduated from Conestoga High School.

Ms. McGovern graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a degree in quantitative business analysis and did course work toward a master’s degree in business administration at Drexel University. She participated in executive programs at Cornell University and the University of California, Berkeley.

“While Sheila's life was cut far too short, her time on this earth was well-lived with passion, love, purpose, and a deep sense of curiosity,” her family said in its statement.

Ms. McGovern met Melissa Nassar at a social gathering in Philadelphia, and they would later say it was the luckiest night of their lives. They were married Oct. 26, 2018, at the National Constitution Center. “It was the second-happiest night of their lives,” the family said in its statement.

Ms. McGovern enjoyed travel of all kinds, but she was at her best when tackling a vacation adventure. She hiked in Machu Picchu, the Inca citadel high in the Andes Mountains of Peru; mastered Class 5 rapids in Chile; went on safari in Africa; and sailed off the coast of Greece. She also toured Ireland with family.

Although she never referred to it, Ms. McGovern excelled at every sport she tried. She wasn’t a great cook, but could “bake a mean cookie,” her family said.

As she rode her bike or traveled on business, Ms. McGovern noticed animals in need of rescue. In several cases, the rescues became her longtime pets. “She had the kindest soul when it came to animals, and she was wonderful to people,” said sister-in-law Rebecca Dunn.

Ms. McGovern was diagnosed with ovarian cancer two years ago. She fought the disease with great courage and dignity, her family recalled.

Besides her wife, Ms. McGovern is survived by her mother, Patricia Kish McFadden; another brother and sister; and nieces and nephews. Her father, Michael, died earlier.

A celebration of life will be at 6:15 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 19, at the Farmhouse at People’s Light Theater, 39 Conestoga Rd., Malvern. A visitation will follow until 9:15 p.m. Burial will be private.

Memorial donations may be made to the Unite for HER Ovarian Cancer Program via, or the Animal Humane Society via