Sheila Taaffe Reynolds SXA '39

The following bio was published in November 2013.

Attending Saint Xavier Academy (the foundation for Mother McAuley) from first grade through college, Sheila Taaffe Reynolds graduated high school in 1939 and college in 1943. “There were no other schools I wanted to go to,” she recalls. “I very much enjoyed our connection with the chapel. You didn’t get that in other schools.”

Another advantage Ms. Reynolds says she had by going to the same school through college was there were always people she knew, so she didn’t have to make much of an adjustment. After high school, Ms. Reynolds says she was inspired by her father to major in French. “He majored in philosophy. But in order to do that he took Latin in high school, because they taught philosophy in Latin. So I figured French would save me from that,” she laughs.

After college, Ms. Reynolds took a course by mail and landed a job in Arlington, Virginia, as a cryptographer during World War II. “The work we did was so important, from a secrecy standpoint, that we weren’t allowed to discuss it with friends or relatives,” she shares, having decoded Japanese shipping news. “We were able to tell where groups were living and whether they were getting ready for an attack based on what was being delivered to them.”

Another feat? Raising 12 children and housing countless exchange students through a program at her parish. “It was something that had to be done so it was done,” she says modestly. She also volunteers at the Field Museum, and currently is translating a book from French into English.

Of her 12 children, Ms. Reynolds sent five daughters to McAuley, including triplets she named Regina, Sheila and Martha after the RSMs. She has remained close with several members of the Sisters of Mercy since her time at Saint Xavier Academy.