Dr. Robert Loren Shelton

A Celebration of Life service for Dr. Robert “Bob” Loren Shelton, 84, will be held at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, January 26, 2019 at First United Methodist Church in Lawrence, KS.

He passed away December 23, 2018 at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

Bob was born at home July 6, 1934 during the time of the dust bowl in Minneola, KS to Sidney Clarence and Mary Catherine (Tucker) Shelton. His mother always told him, “The dust blew in and when it left, there you were.”

Bob attended public schools in Hutchinson, KS graduating from Hutchinson High School in 1952. During high school, he was student body president and excelled at music, drama, and debate where he learned the fine art of seeing at least two sides to everything.

In 1956 Bob graduated with honors from Baker University, Baldwin City, KS. While in college he married Suzanne Ebright. They had two daughters and later divorced. During his last two years at Baker he served as student pastor of two small Methodist churches, beginning his lifelong commitment of service to the church and community.

Bob received his Master of Divinity from Boston University School of Theology in 1959 followed by further study at the Graduate School of Ecumenical Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. He was ordained in The Methodist Church in 1960 and appointed as campus minister at Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS and then at Washburn University in Topeka, KS. He was also State Director of the Kansas Methodist Student Movement where he was involved in civil rights issues.

Bob then returned to Boston to complete his Ph.D. in Social Ethics at Boston University Graduate School. In 1967 he accepted a faculty position in the Kansas School of Religion at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS. He was a professor for 48 years at KU, during which time he was Chair of the Religious Studies Department for ten years and was appointed as University Ombudsman for eighteen years. Bob was held in high esteem by students, faculty and staff for his natural ability to listen, empathize and develop solutions that considered the needs of everyone. His peers elected him President of the University and College Ombuds Association in 1993-1994.

A beloved and dedicated professor, Bob developed and taught a popular class, Loving Relationships, as well as courses in his areas of research including medical ethics, human conflict and peace, social justice and civil rights. He was instrumental in developing the KU Peace Studies Program and Undergraduate Minor. Bob was the recipient of numerous awards including the Wally and Marie Steeples Faculty Award for Outstanding Service to the People of Kansas and the W.T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence. He retired from KU in May, 2015.

Bob served the Lawrence community in many ways, most recently as a member of the Lawrence Memorial Hospital Ethics Committee for twenty years. He was active in First United Methodist Church in various capacities, including justice ministries. Bob’s interest in piano, singing and drama continued throughout his life, and he was especially pleased to perform in quartets and with the Motet Singers in Lawrence.

Bob and Mary Carolyn Voss were married in 1974 and they raised their two sons in Lawrence. Over the years they enjoyed traveling to Europe with Bob’s daughters, KU basketball games with their sons, and later in life, spending time with grandchildren. They continued traveling, attending concerts and theatre, and actively participating in First United Methodist Church until Bob’s health began to decline in late 2015.

Survivors include his wife, Carolyn, daughter, Heidi (Marty) Shelton-Jenck, daughter, Wendi Shelton, son, Michael (Holly) Shelton, son, David Shelton, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Other survivors include brother, Randall (Linda) Shelton, sister, Mary Lou (Larry) Grove, sister-in-law, Margie Shelton and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews. Bob was preceded in death by his parents and brother, Howard Shelton.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to First United Methodist Church, 946 Vermont St., Lawrence, KS 66044 or The Carter Center, Attn. Office of Development, One Copenhill, 453 Freedom Parkway NE, Atlanta, GA 30307 or may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th St., Lawrence, KS 66044.

23 Condolences

  1. Linda Burton on December 30, 2018 at 8:38 pm

    Carolyn: I was sorry to hear of Bob’s death. You are in my thoughts.

  2. Shannon Hackett on December 31, 2018 at 11:48 am

    Dear Carolyn, I did not know your husband, Bob, but he sounds like a lovely man. I am very sorry to hear that he died and send you and his family my deepest condolences. May he be gathered up in God’s arms until the day when you join him in Heaven..
    with love and prayers, Shannon

  3. Beth Hartley Winetroub on December 31, 2018 at 11:56 am

    My heart is so saddened to learn of your loss. Please know that you and all your family are in my thoughts and prayers. No matter the circumstances or age, and I know Bob has been in ill health,it is never easy to lose a loved one and there will always be a void no one else can fill. May God grant you much strength through the coming days.
    Blessings always,

  4. Darci Rock Dies on December 31, 2018 at 12:33 pm

    Carolyn, I am so sorry to hear of your husband’s death. I did not know him well, but do remember him as an articulate and dedicated seeker of justice and peace, providing wise leadership at a time when true leaders seemed absent.
    I am happy to read of your loving and full life together, and grieved to learn of your loss.
    God Bless you and your family,

  5. Marilyn Hughes Hoecker on December 31, 2018 at 1:25 pm

    I am so sorry for the loss of your beloved husband! Hope many happy memories will help ease your sadness!
    Marilyn Hughes Hoecker

  6. Paul Friedman on December 31, 2018 at 6:08 pm

    Hi Carolyn,
    I was deeply moved to learn about Bob’s passing. What a dear friend he was!
    Gee, I remember when you two were married. You brought him such joy, then and ever since.
    Bob and I shared similar values and worked in similar ways to implement them. I greatly valued our talks over the years–with Bob, with you, and with both of you. They always were insightful and fun.
    Please know that I’d love to keep in touch and would love to have you as a guest here in Sedona, AZ any time. I’ll also make contact the next time I’m in Lawrence.
    (Although I imagine with Bob and I both gone, the university will probably close down.)
    Paul Friedman

  7. Susan doty Keaton on December 31, 2018 at 8:30 pm

    Thinking of your family. My prayers are with you all.

    Love, Susan Doty Keaton

  8. Cyndy Kuntzelman Price on January 1, 2019 at 7:06 am

    Dear Carolyn,

    Hugs to you, my friend. We have met each other at funeral services these past few years… I send you my deepest condolences for the loss of your husband. He had a very grand life, and I’m hoping you find comfort in your many memories of your life together.


  9. Marsha Dixon Monica on January 1, 2019 at 2:40 pm

    Dear Carolyn,
    I am so sorry to hear of Bob’s passing. What a great legacy he left. I remember having him for a religion class when I was at KU. He was a great professor. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. I hope that you will be comforted by many wonderful memories of Bob.

  10. Lynda Scheid Paul on January 1, 2019 at 4:07 pm

    Dear Carolyn, I was deeply saddened to hear of your wonderful husband passing. Hugging you so gently and surrounding you and you family loving prayers and strength. May your memories fulfill your heart until you meet again. God Bless L &L, Lynda

  11. Robbie Patterson on January 1, 2019 at 5:24 pm

    Dear Carolyn,
    I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your beloved husband Bob.
    You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers, and may the love and peace of God be with you through this difficult journey.

  12. Valeria Howland on January 2, 2019 at 9:20 am

    Dear Shelton Family,

    I send my deepest sympathy to each of you for the great loss of your loved one. I was Michael’s Kindrgarten Teacher at Hillcrest. Although I have not seen him for a long time, I remember him well. I was saddened to see of his fathers passing and
    I am sorry that I am not free to attend the funeral tomorrow. I pray strength and courage for all of you as you face this new difficult chapter in your lives. May God Bless you with His Peace and may you be comforted by your memories and His Love. Val Howland

  13. Ron and Joyce Wolf on January 3, 2019 at 11:25 am

    Dear Carolyn and Other Members of the Shelton Family,

    We send our most sincere sympathy on the passing of Bob, whom we came to know through our mutual service on the ICL Community Advisory Panel. Bob did an amazing job of keeping the group on track and his guidance continues to be missed. We will not be able to attend the memorial service, but we will keep your family in our thoughts and prayers.

    Ron and Joyce Wolf

  14. Julie Trowbridge-Alford on January 8, 2019 at 11:31 am

    Dear Carolyn. I read Bob’s obituary and will attend his memorial service. I am glad to have known him in the 26 years I’ve lived in Lawrence. He always seemed to have a twinkle in his eye about many subjects
    I also know these last few years have been demanding & I admire your caring dedication. All my best, Julie

  15. Reva C. Friedman on January 15, 2019 at 12:35 pm

    Dear Carolyn –

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this challenging transition. As many other have written, I appreciated Bob’s unique serious thoughtfulness, leavened with a don’t-take-everything-so-seriously twinkle.

    When Bob performed Paul’s and my civil (wedding) ceremony in 1981, he surprised us with a poem, “Love Came When We Least Expected Him.” It has resonated in my heart all these decades. I was able to share it with Joy as she planned her wedding nearly two years ago, too.

    Bob added much to the many worlds in which he lived.

    May his memory be for blessing –


  16. Suzanne Belson on January 17, 2019 at 6:49 am

    Dear Shelton Family,
    I was sad to read that Bob passed away last month. He was one of my most treasured ombudsman colleagues and often my go to person when I needed thoughtful ideas on a particularly thorny problem. He was also my go to person for chocolate-covered cherries which he introduced me to at a conference in Lawrence – probably rueing the day because I insisted he bring me some every time we got together after that!
    I will remember Bob with respect, fondness and much appreciation.
    Suzanne Belson (Montreal, Canada)

  17. Bob Minor on January 17, 2019 at 8:25 pm

    What sadness to hear of the passing of such a cherished colleague. Bob gave his life to KU in so many ways. And he touched so many around him including me. My sincere condolences. In many ways his loss leaves me without adequate words.

  18. Heidi Wallace on January 23, 2019 at 10:14 am

    Dear Shelton family,

    What a wonderful human being Bob was!! I both enrolled in and assisted with his Loving Relationships class in the 1970s.
    When I realized I was booked for an out of town wedding on January 26, although dissapointed, I thought what better tribute to Bob’s life….than to celebrate love! He will always be in my heart. Heidi Wallace (Houston, Texas)

  19. Paul Zimdars-Swartz and Sandra Zimdars-Swartz on January 25, 2019 at 8:58 pm

    We will remember Bob as a dear colleague and we will treasure his many kindnesses to us both when we came to Lawrence and KU some forty years ago and through the ensuing decades. He contributed much to the Department of Religious Studies, to the Peace and Conflict Studies programs, to the University, and to the search for peace and justice. He is and will be greatly missed. Our sincerest condolences for your loss.

  20. John Hanson on January 28, 2019 at 2:24 pm

    It was with shock and sadness that I heard about Bob’s passing. I had the great pleasure of teaching in the Religious Studies Department when Bob was chair in the 1980s. I learned much from him and benefited from his wisdom and insights during those six years. I cannot adequately express my sadness, but want to convey my condolences to all of Bob’s family. (Silver Spring, Maryland)

  21. Mark Biddle on February 5, 2019 at 6:28 am


    I was sad to see the news of Bob’s passing. Sending you and your family hopes for peace and gratitude for the many gifts he shared with you and the world he so abundantly loved.
    Best wishes from a past student and friend.


  22. Jill Joseph on September 9, 2019 at 2:06 pm

    I’ve just read of Bob’s passing. (I live out of town.) Bob meant the world to me. I adored him. He was a mentor when I was a young freshman student, and officiated at our wedding. He was a thoughtful and loving friend. I am so so sorry for your loss.

  23. Andrew Schechterman on March 13, 2021 at 5:19 pm

    Oh Dr. Shelton, I repeat myself, but you helped change the world. I miss you, wish you were back with us, forever, we need you. Continue to send us patience and wisdom and love that we can carry with us forward.

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