George Feland Shelton, 82, died on Monday at Alexander Cohen Hospice House. His family gathered around George and gave meaningful farewells to the much-loved patriarch.
George was born in Orrville, Ohio, the son of A.L. and Dabney Shelton. The family soon moved to Charleston, S.C., where George and his brother, Charles, grew up. George graduated from Porter Military Academy in 1946, and Clemson University in 1951, after which time he joined the military. While serving as an Army officer in Berlin after World War II, George met and married the love of his life, Mary Rose Swadell, daughter of the Army post’s chaplain.
George was the consummate educator. He taught social studies for the Modesto City Schools for 38 years, 34 of which were at La Loma Junior High School. Also, early in his teaching career, George and Mary Rose took their three children to France when he earned a teaching assignment at Fountainbleau with the U.S. Dept. of Defense Dependents Schools. Years later when their children were grown, George and Mary Rose were posted again for three years in Heidelberg, Germany, also as DoDDs educators. The couple travelled frequently and visited six continents, making friends and lasting memories far and wide.
George loved history and was an avid fan of the History Channel; and he was a voracious reader of history books and historical fiction. He shared his enthusiasm with countless students. He also loved nature and gardening and was a dedicated steward to the preservation of the forest flora and fauna. When hiking with companions, he remained always “the teacher,” informing folks of what they were seeing and why the ecosystem was important.
In 1985, while still working for the Modesto City Schools, George and Mary Rose left Modesto to live in their cherished mountain home near Twain Harte, a beautiful structure they helped to build. During their years in Tuolumne County, George was a volunteer teacher at Belleview School for 18 years. Again, his fondness for young people and his desire to teach and shape young lives made a positive impact upon many students.
Integrity is a word that characterized George Shelton. He was a true Southern gentleman. He was a good man of great faith who, first and foremost, was devoted to his family. George had been a longtime member of College Avenue Congregational Church in Modesto and involved himself in activities that worked to promote social justice.
George is survived by his beloved wife of 57 years, Mary Rose Shelton, of Hughson; children, Mark (Kathy) of San Luis Obispo, Eric (Mieko) of Modesto and Sally (Barb) of Bloomington, Minn.; grandchildren, Sarah, Lea Rose, Alexandra, James, David, Christian and Maria; and great grandchildren, Kaya and Rocco. George is also survived by his brother, Charles of Virginia; and nine nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, A.L. and Dabney Shelton of Modesto.
A celebration of George Shelton’s life will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 29 at College Avenue Congregational Church in Modesto.
In lieu of flowers, the family prefers donations to the American Cancer Society, 3440 McHenry Ave., Ste. A12, Modesto, CA 95350 or to the George Shelton Memorial Fund, c/o La Loma Jr. High School, 1800 Encina Ave., Modesto, CA 95354.
Please leave memories and condolences at www.allenmortuary.com.