Shelton, Rev. Dr. Robert McElroy

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October 9, 1934 - March 4, 2018

Shelton, Rev. Dr. Robert McElroy

On March 4, 2018, Reverend Dr. Robert McElroy Shelton died in Dallas, Texas, of complications from Alzheimer’s.  He is survived by his wife, Rev. Dr. Fran Shelton, daughter, Tammy Mackesey (Rich), son, Jim (Diane), and Fran’s children Omi Ford (Robert) and Sarah Coward (Ken).  Also, Bob’s sister Helen Knight lives in Memphis, TN.  His first wife, Barbara, died in 1980.  The legacy of his love, his most valuable gift, extends many generations to Natalie Borg (Diane and Jim), Isabella and Trey (Omi and Robert), Kaya and Stax (Ken and Sarah), and his many nieces and nephews to whom he was often known as “Uncle Gunner.”  This love will, no doubt, then be passed on to their children, as well.  And on, and on….

Bob was born in Karnak, IL,on October 9, 1934, to Reverend Clarence Roy and Mary Shelton.  He was the youngest of nine children and was preceded in death by:  Juanita, June, Mary Ruth, James, Charles, Wayne, and Kathryn.  He grew up in Southern Illinois and East Tennessee, and graduated from Maryville College in 1955, where he lettered in three sports and was inducted into the Maryville College Sports Hall of Fame.  Bob also earned degrees from Memphis Theological Seminary (B.D.), and a Th.M. and Ph. D. from Princeton Theological Seminary, an experience that had a far-reaching impact on the rest of his life.  He was the first Cumberland Presbyterian, and as he would say “the first East Tennessee hillbilly,” to attend Princeton.

As a Cumberland Presbyterian minister, Bob served churches in New Jersey and Tennessee, as well as fulfilling meaningful interims in Shreveport, Dallas, and San Antonio.  He was a dynamic preacher who captivated congregations and left a lasting impression on all within earshot.  Bob’s teaching career began at Memphis Theological Seminary, where he later served on the Board of Trustees.After Memphis, he began a long career in 1971 as a professor at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary(APTS).  As a crowning teaching achievement, he was honored as the first holder of the Jean Brown Chair of Homiletics and Liturgics.  Additionally, Bob served as Dean of APTS, and in 1997was named 8th president of that institution, a position he held through 2002.  In 1993, Bob was elected Moderator of the 163rd General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

Bob had many passions, among them theology, sports, music of all types (especially the songs of Willie Nelson), literature, and poetry.  In fact, along with APTS colleague Ross Dunn, he created the program “Theology and Willie Nelson,” which was presented all over the country for decades.  Bob’s love for life was spread throughout the secular and religious world.  He saw as much of God’s beauty and grace in a well-turned Cub double play from Kessinger-to-Beckert-to-Banks, as in a gloriously sung hymn or a meaningful sermon.

As long as we can remember Bob and tell a story about him that brings a smile to our faces or reveals his wisdom, his spirit will be with us forever.  He often said that “God is love,” and the love Bob gave us all will endure.  A part of each of us has died with Bob, but now his love, also in each of us, will rise again.

A service of Witness to the Resurrection will be held at First Presbyterian Church, Dallas, TX, on March 7 at 2 p.m.  The Rev. Dr. R. Kenneth Peters and The Rev. Rebecca Chancellor-Sicks will officiate.

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Alice and Jim Nunnery

December 06, 2018 3:45PM

Tammy and Jim, we only just learned of and are deeply saddened by the passing of your dear father. He was an extraordinary man whose teaching changed our lives, and the friendship we shared with him and your mother we will cherish always. May God comfort you in your loss and bring you joy in precious memories.
Love, Alice and Jim Nunnery 12/6/2018

Revs John and Bobbie McGarey

March 10, 2018 5:44PM

Well done Good and Faithful Servant. In the hearts of us all.

“We will remember the good times”
Love to Fran and all.

Rev Rose Gander

March 06, 2018 10:26AM

My heart is full of gratitude for the life of Bob Shelton. He helped me in so many ways. I talked him into letting me take two of Ellis Nelson's courses soon after I started at APTS, way before I was eligible. What a gift that was. We played bridge together and I introduced him to Fran and watched them fall in love. I traveled from California for their wedding. For his guidance, his friendship, his humor and so many things I am grateful for the life and love of Bob Shelton

Linda Jo Dewey

March 06, 2018 9:44AM

I received an e-mail from First Presbyterian Church last night that Rev. Dr. Shelton had passed away. He was interim pastor in 2006 when I joined the church. We were all blessed to have him then. May God comfort the family at this time. Linda Jo Dewey

Fred D. Richmond, APTS MA '92

March 05, 2018 10:03PM

Fran and family,
Bob is one of my very best memories from my time at APTS. Loved his classes, loved his humor, loved his personality and DEARLY loved him doing the Gospel according to Willie Nelson. (Can't leave out the smile!) He leaves an enormous void in many hearts. My deepest condolences, but know his impact on the Kingdom cannot be measured.

Delise Becker

March 05, 2018 9:58PM

Tammy and Jim,

I am so sorry for your loss. Your dad was a great man, and he and your mother raised two great children. I feel privileged to have known him. He affected everyone he met in a most positive way, and I can't listen to a Willie song without thinking about him.


Chuck Ramsay

March 05, 2018 8:10PM

An amazing man. I am better because I knew him. He was an inspiration to me and I will never forget him.

Peggy and Tom Blanchard

March 05, 2018 4:34PM

We are so very sorry to hear of the loss of Uncle Bob. He will always have a special place in our hearts forever. Prayers of comfort are with you all.

Peggy and Tom Blanchard

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