Losing Sheila’s Smile

I have joined a club that is bigger than it should be and is certainly one that I definitely do not want to belong to. On Christmas Eve, my beautiful friend Sheila Green was murdered by her brother who suffered from psychosis. So now, I am one of the approximately 40% of Americans who know someone who was killed with a gun. That is an obscenely high number and is probably a low estimate as that study was done in 2015.

My wife, Sheryl, and I, met Sheila through mutual friends and through Sheryl’s work, when we first moved to Madison in 1985, as Sheila was a ultrasound tech at the same hospital where Sheryl did her medical residency. It was easy to become friends with Sheila as she had an ever present smile that always made you feel good when you saw her.


Sheila was also a chocolate aficionado, purchasing only the finest chocolates and baking up scrumptious chocolate treats on a regular basis. She was kind enough to share her flourless chocolate torte recipe with my wife, who has made countless of them over the years, and we think of Sheila every time we eat one. Sadly now, we will fondly remember her with each future torte.

Sheila came from a large family, and she was close with her many siblings. She did her best to care for her troubled brother. Sheila knew he owned a gun, and in fact, he had a concealed carry permit. She insisted that he not bring it to her home. For reasons we may never know, her brother did not honor that request on Christmas eve, and brought his gun to her home and shot and killed her.

Sheila’s friends and family are all grieving now for such a needless loss. It is especially needless because there are extreme risk protection laws in 17 states also known as red flag laws which are specifically designed to prevent murders by people who are known to be dangerous. These laws authorize courts to issue a protection order, allowing the police to temporarily confiscate firearms from people who are deemed by a judge to be a danger to themselves or to others. Usually, the request for the order will come from relatives or friends concerned about a loved one who owns one or more guns and has expressed suicidal thoughts or discussed shooting people.

Wisconsin, however, is not one of those states. However, it could easily have had this law in place in time to protect Sheila from her brother, who was a known danger who legally possessed a gun. This past October, Gov. Evers called a special legislative session to consider two common sense gun control measures: universal background checks and red flag legislation. Despite the fact that 80% of Wisconsin residents support passage of these laws, Republican legislative leaders refused to vote on or even debate these popular measures. In an utter act of contempt for voters, Senate Majority leader Scott Fitzgerald dismissed the Senate in 30 seconds and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos dismissed the Assembly in 15 seconds. Gov. Evers has considered calling another special session on these measures, but thus far, has not done so.

One would like to believe that as society grows and learns, it improves. Yet, when it comes to gun control, the United States continues to behave as if there is nothing we can do to prevent gun violence, leaving our nation stuck in a warped 21st Century Wild, Wild West. This is my tenth gun control post on my blog in 7 years, and while sometimes I feel like giving up, I persistbecause too many innocent lives are being snuffed out on a daily basis-and this time, she was a friend.

I grew up during the Vietnam war, and every Friday on the evening news, the anchorman would report the weekly body count of dead and wounded. My mother shared some wisdom with me at that time, that applies to every single gun death. She said that she wished that they did not publish the number of dead, because that made them anonymous and allowed people to forget that each life lost was a real human being with friends and family. The same is true with America’s out of control gun violence. I will not add the gruesome statistics to this post because I want every reader to read Sheila Green’s name, look at her beautiful smiling face, that will smile no more, and then call or e-mail Robin Vos and Scott Fitgerald and demand that they find some courage to pass a red flag law. It is too late for Sheila, but it is not too late for the many lives who could be saved in the future. I sincerely hope that the loss of Sheila’s life will gain some purpose if the Wisconsin legislature passes a red flag law. We could even call it Sheila’s law.


For more information on how I can help you accomplish progressive, effective systems change, contact Jeff Spitzer-Resnick by visiting his web site: Systems Change Consulting.

Categories 2nd Amendment, Gun control, Red Flag LawsTags , ,

13 thoughts on “Losing Sheila’s Smile

  1. May her untimely death result in others living safer lives. 😥

  2. Nicki Vander Meulen December 27, 2019 — 3:00 pm

    I’m too a part of that club. My dear friend Liam was shot to death a year ago. These red flag laws will Save Lives. I am so sorry for the loss of Sheila . May her memory be a blessing and may you find peace.

    1. You should check your reblog, because when I checked it does not show up.

  3. Jeff….If you are not already a member, I hope you will consider joining the Madison Moms Demand Action group. Advocacy Day is scheduled for February…yours is a voice that should be heard.

  4. We love and miss Sheila so much and appreciate your blog. I immediately emailed Vos and FitzGerald and demanded answers and actions. Would like to help continue the fight for Sheila’s Law. I’ll email you.
    Kate and Dave

  5. A senseless death of a wonderful person and friend. Sheila will be deeply missed by many.
    Sheila’s Law it should be.

  6. I’m so sorry about the loss of your friend, Jeff. May her memory be for a blessing! I think you should also post her flourless chocolate cake recipe. It sounds divine. I will definitely contact Vos, Fitzgerald, my local representatives, and Gov. Evers to request that they come together to enact Sheila’s Law. Thanks for sharing your story.

    1. Thanks! I will ask my wife for the recipe and share it.

    2. Here’s the recipe for Sheila’s chocolate torte:
      1 lb. bittersweet chocolate
      1 stick unsalted butter
      Melt butter and chocolate together.
      Beat 4 eggs.
      Add eggs to butter and chocolate.
      2 Tbs. espresso or flavor of choice, e.g. vanilla or almond extract. My wife uses decaf espresso.
      Line 8″ round cake pan with parchment paper on bottom.
      Pour batter in pan.
      Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 10 minutes.
      Cool and then cover with foil and freeze for at least 2 hours.
      Remove from freezer.
      Remove from pan.
      Remove parchment paper.
      Make ganache with 1/2 unsalted butter, 1/4 lb. bittersweet chocolate melted together. Stir, add 2 Tbs. corn syrup. Pour over cake.
      My wife Sheryl’s optional additions: 1) Almonds in cake (actually that was my idea originally;)
      2) raspberry jam spread on cake before pouring over cake.
      Enjoy and think of Sheila’s smile

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