BOSTON - Novelist, essayist and onetime Sag Harbor resident Wilfrid Sheed, the English-born American satirical writer known for tackling jazz, baseball and journalism, died Wednesday in Great Barrington, Mass., his stepdaughter said. He was 80.
The cause was an infection called urosepsis, said stepdaughter Phoebe Alexis Ungerer. She said Sheed also had long suffered from polio and more recently cancer of the mouth.
Born in London to prominent Catholic publishers, Sheed was the author of a number of books, including "A Middle Class Education," "Square's Progress," and "People Will Always Be Kind." He often wrote about a broad range of subjects, from characters wrestling with their Roman Catholic beliefs to his own battles with disease and addiction in his memoir, "In Love With Daylight: A Memory of Recovery." His last book, "The House That George Built: With a Little Help From Irving, Cole and a Crew of About Fifty," was published in 2007 and was billed as a history of American popular music.
Sheed also was part of a team that won a 1987 Grammy Award for Best Album Notes for "The Voice: The Columbia Years, 1943-1952," performed by Frank Sinatra.
"He was a beautiful and understanding and wonderful person," Ungerer said from her Great Barrington home.
Ungerer said Sheed had moved from a Long Island nursing home to one in Great Barrington around 10 days ago.
Sheed's family moved to the United States from England 10 years after his birth to escape World War II and settled in a suburb of Philadelphia. He later returned to England to attend Lincoln College, Oxford, where he received a B.A. and M.A.
In 1957, Sheed married Maria Bulitt Darlington and the couple had three children. The marriage ended in divorce 10 years later.
He is survived by his second wife, Miriam Ungerer Sheed, who lived with him for many years in eastern Long Island. He is also survived by a sister, Rosemary Luke Sheed Middleton; three children from his first marriage, two stepdaughters and four grandchildren.
The family said Sheed's last wish was to have his gravestone engraved with the words, "He wrote some good sentences." Services are scheduled later this week at St. Peter Catholic Church and Finnerty & Stevens Funeral Home in Great Barrington.