Ed Sheehan Jr., 73, Founder of Windy City Youth Circus

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Edward Charles Sheehan Jr., 73, a longtime resident of Oak Park, died of cancer on Jan. 19, 2012. The firstborn of five boys, he grew up in Oak Park and became a teacher. His work as swim coach at St. Philip High School led to producing swim shows when he founded Aqua Nuts.

He later founded the Windy City Youth Circus and worked as a circus instructor for the Chicago Latin School, the University of Chicago, and the Triton Junior College Troupers.

Prior to moving to Sarasota, he owned and operated the Windy City Circus School in Antioch. Establishing Sheehan's Poster Service turned him into a circus historian and he also became a member of Circus Fans of America. As the voice of the Sarasota County Fair, he balanced announcing duties with security supervision. He also served as the building director for Sarasota's Showfolks Club and as grounds supervisor for Milwaukee's Great Circus Parade.

Friends and family describe him as "his own person, determined, stubborn and strongly opinionated — a curmudgeon, yet a purveyor of good times."

Ed Sheehan is survived by his brothers, Dennis M. Sheehan (Joan), Phillip J. Sheehan (Patty), Thomas K. Sheehan (Jill), and his life partner, Ray Swiess. He was predeceased by his brother, Terrance P. Sheehan (Carol). Nieces and nephews include Seamus, Eamon, Padraig, Tim, Margaret, Kevin, Meagan, and Ryan.

A memorial service for family and friends will be scheduled at a later date. Donations may be made in Ed Sheehan's name to Circus Sarasota's Big Top Education or Sailor Circus programs, 8251 15th St. E, Suite B, Sarasota FL 34243.

Reader Comments

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Carole Barnes from Dickson, TN  

Posted: February 25th, 2012 4:01 PM

I was one of the original Aqua Nuts. Sorry to say I lost track of Ed years ago and just learned of his passing from Lou Rago. We had such great times together and I find I that even now I can't wipe the grin off my face when I think of the absolutely insane things we did back then. My regrets go out to all that knew and loved him.

kellie from Sarasota  

Posted: February 3rd, 2012 6:45 PM

What a Wonderful Man was Ed. I did not personally know him but know Ray. I am saddend that I did not get to meet this obviously wonderful man that gave so much of his heart to so many others!! The Memorial today was such a Celebration of his Life! Long live the Circus and Ed in our Hearts!!!!!

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