Marlboro - Sheila Ruth Balch (known by many around the country as the ‘raccoon lady”) passed away peacefully in her home on September 16, 2017.
She was born in New York, NY on April 26, 1939 to Robert and Lillian (Goldstein) Liebowitz. Sheila attended the Bronx High School of Science and was accepted at CCNY at the age of 16.
She married David Balch and raised her two young sons in NYC before moving to Valley Cottage, NY where she began her career in the breeding and raising of Alaskan Malamutes. She became the top winning breeder in the history of the breed which culminated in numerous championships at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Because of her success, she was chosen as the representative of her breed for a Kal Kan television commercial. She became an international and Westminster dog show judge and traveled the world as a highly sought after expert in her field.
Among her many talents and accomplishments, she was a champion on the game show “Jeopardy” in the early 70’s and then asked to become a contestant again in the early 90’s and was a member of the screen actors guild. Sheila loved all animals (especially raccoons), was an avid collector, a voracious reader, a world traveler, talented knitter and needlework crafter, and she was also a very high spirited, opinionated and entertaining story teller. She left an indelible mark on all those who came into contact with her.
Sheila is predeceased by her husband David who passed away June 30, 2017 and leaves behind her two sons, Marc Balch of Wilmington and Eric Balch of Mystic, CT; her daughters-in-law, Angel Balch and Brenda Balch; grandsons, Zachary of Syracuse, NY, Cameron of Chicago, IL and Patrick of Mystic, CT; a granddaughter, Sarah of Brooklyn, NY; and two nieces, Allison Friedman and Dorian Pascoe of NY.
The family will have a private memorial and Sheila requested her ashes be spread at the Wildlife Sanctuary of her dear friend and wildlife rehabilitator, Annie Wilczak, in upstate New York.
Those wishing to make a donation in her name can send to the Windham County Humane Society.