Sherrill Lee Miersemann

(Sher Shipway)

January 28, 1948 – November 12, 2023

Sherrill Lee Evans Miersemann passed away Sunday afternoon, November 12, 2023 in Santa Rosa, California, at 75 years of age. Her laughter and love will be deeply missed and always hold a special place in our hearts.

Sher was born in San Francisco, California, where her parents resided at the time. Her father was born in England and immigrated to Canada and then to the US as a child. Her mother was born and raised in New York. Sher grew up in a large Catholic family, the third of seven siblings, and went to school at Camden High School near Los Gatos. She was on the high school diving team and her children remember her impressive dives and flips at the diving board platform, most often at The Healdsburg Veterans Memorial Beach on the Russian River where she regularly brought her four children. Sher also played field hockey before going to college at San Jose State, graduating with degrees in both English and Psychology. She taught English at the University of Lyon, France, and traveled abroad extensively before returning to California in her twenties.

When in college she met her future husband, Karl Miersemann, while working at a pizzeria he managed. After graduation, she earned her EMT certificate and worked as a paralegal. The two married in May 1973 and started a family in San Jose, where they had their first two daughters. Her husband’s career led the family to Illinois in the late 1970’s, where they enjoyed the Midwest lifestyle, buying country property with a barn and pasture. There Sher’s love for horses grew as she taught her own young children to ride and care for their two horses. Welcoming animals was always a part of her nurturing personality, with rabbits, chickens, fish, birds, cats and their beloved Golden Retriever becoming part of her family. She also had a green thumb that could bring any dying plant back to life, and enjoyed replanting all the plants given to her over the years. While in Illinois she gave birth to their third daughter, who was born with a congenital heart defect, facing open heart surgery at 3 months old. Sher’s strength and determination as a mother and advocate rose to the occasion as she fought for the best care available for her daughter. Something she would do for the rest of her life.

The family moved back to California with Sher driving the girls, dog and horse trailer across country, creating a memorable trip for all. They settled in Sonoma County in 1981 before welcoming their fourth and final daughter. Sher began studying and earned her Real Estate Broker’s license in Sonoma County in 1984. Eventually parting ways from her husband, Sher built a life and career in Rohnert Park, California. She started her own Real Estate company, guided by her compassionate nature, and eventually expanded into property management. She became one of the few licensed agents in the Bay Area to handle government foreclosures in the 1980’s, supporting her family through that economic downturn with this specialized skill. She had a strong work ethic and was a member of the Association of Realtors for four decades.

At her 35 year high school reunion she became re-acquainted with her high school sweetheart, Ray Shipway. They picked up right where they left off after high school, sparks still flying. They built a life together for over 10 years before getting married in June 2012. Together with Ray, Sher enjoyed riding Harley Davidson motorcycles, and learned how to fly ultralight aircraft, stopping just short of testing for her pilot’s license. They loved their home life where they continued to care for horses but balanced it well with plenty of travel; from weekends away to trips abroad. Eventually traveling in their motorhome during their retirement years.

Sher’s full and busy life always had room for the larger community. When the kids were young, she was an active PTA member helping to shape the new elementary school her girls attended. She was always excited to drive on field trips and was well known and loved by all the students. The students’ fondness for her followed her even into the high school classroom when she would occasionally substitute teach when her daughters attended Ursuline High School. Sher also supported multiple exchange students in her home over the years. After her girls were grown, she volunteered for the Rancho Cotati Rotary Club, giving hours of service to her community and for the Young Eagles where she coordinated pilots giving free flights to local youth.

Sher was upbeat, fun and outgoing, known for her infectious laugh and sharp wit, frequently offering a well-timed remark to lighten the mood, no matter how somber. Her stunning smile could light up any room!  She was dedicated to raising a family that loved and supported each other. She role modeled that with her loving relationships with her own siblings, always making the effort for family reunions or helping out when someone was going through a hard time. Family was always a priority; from searching for relatives in England to maintaining her relationships with her extended family, including regular trips to see her favorite Aunt Bonnie, Uncle Glen and cousin Jimbo in Florida. Sher’s children are grateful for the commitment to family that she created and fought to maintain, as they continue to enjoy those close family connections today.

Sher was a loving and proud mother and grandmother who successfully passed on to her children her love of travel, her real estate skills, playing card games, and her love for horses and gardening.

Her last years were spent struggling with Alzheimer’s disease. With Ray by her side, their love and playful characters gave them strength to get through the hard days. Her beautiful smile and laughter never faded. Ray became her dedicated caregiver with a loving and happy attitude. Their love for each other was truly inspiring during these years. She passed away peacefully in her own home surrounded by her loving family.

Sher is survived by her husband, Raymond Shipway, her four daughters and their husbands; Heidi Miersemann and Thad Fabish, Jamie and Patrick Lynch, Kristy and Lauren Mackey, and Katie and Brenton Taylor, two step sons; Raymond Shipway Jr. and Michael Shipway, as well as her sister Sharron Evans Moore and four brothers; James Evans, Walter ‘Skip’ Evans, Robert Evans and Patrick Evans, seven grandchildren; Margarete ‘Greta’ and Emmett Lynch, Madelyn and Liberty Mackey, Bradley and Carson Taylor, and Kaitlin Shipway. She was preceded in death by her parents Cherry Bennett and Walter Evans, and her sister Jacqueline Evans Kochendorfer.

Please join us for her Memorial service on Saturday May 4, 2024 at 2:30pm at Saint Rose of Lima Catholic Church at 398 10th street, Santa Rosa, CA 95401, followed by a Celebration of Life at The DoubleTree Hotel at 1 Doubletree Drive, Rohnert Park, CA 94928.

More information will be shared via her Facebook page:

To those who wish to make a donation in her honor, the family suggests the Alzheimer’s Foundation or the EQUUS horse foundation.  EQUUS Foundation

Alzheimer’s Foundation  select “tribute gift” and list “Sher Miersemann” in her memory.