In Alumni, Department of Art, Faculty and Staff, Museum of Art

After years of helping students achieve their goals, Heelis looks forward to continuing her own education

Department Secretary Sharon Heelis will retire this year after working for the Art Department for nearly 40 years — longer, if you count her time as a student employee. She remembers such momentous milestones as the first computer in the office (“My typewriter was the printer, so when I printed it sounded like a machine gun”), the first fax machine (“We stood and watched as the message printed out from a roll of paper”) and the first copy machine (“It gave us oily paper, it was expensive and the copies weren’t very good”). Fortunately, Heelis said, technology has come a long way since then.

Heelis began her decades-long career in the department in December of 1979, after the Barbizon Manufacturing Company — where she had worked for several years before and after serving a mission in Chile for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — announced they were closing. She had been an on-again, off-again student for seven years as she worked and saved money to put herself through school, though she had not yet settled on a major.

At first, Heelis worked part-time as a student secretary — typing, preparing syllabi and making copies for faculty with a mimeograph machine. Just six months later, Heelis applied for and was accepted to the full-time gallery secretary position, where she helped care for the university’s art collection prior to the opening of the Museum of Art (MOA) in 1993. The timing was fortunate for Heelis, whose father died suddenly one year into her new job. The oldest of six children, Heelis was able to support herself and ease the pressure on her mother, who was still caring for three children at their home in Payson.

Read the full article by Abby Weidmer at art.byu.edu.

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