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.