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Asa Shelton Enjoyed Seven-Decade Relationship With LWC

Posted on Monday, September 14, 2009 [12:52 PM]

Asa Shelton Obit 001
Asa Shelton and his wife, Tillie, ride in a car as grand marshals in the 2003 Lindsey Wilson College Homecoming parade.

COLUMBIA, Ky. -- The life and contributions of former Lindsey Wilson College dean Asa Marshall Shelton were celebrated Wednesday, Sept. 16, at a funeral service.

Shelton died Saturday at Jane Todd Crawford Hospital in Greensburg, Ky., after a long illness. He was 97.

"Asa Shelton was one of the giants in the history of Lindsey Wilson," LWC President William T. Luckey Jr. said shortly after Shelton's death. "Because of his unselfish service to the college, Lindsey Wilson was able to weather the storms of change and blossom into the beautiful college it is today. Few people saw Lindsey Wilson undergo more dramatic changes than Dean Shelton did during his more than 70-year association with the college."

Shelton came to LWC in 1936 as a member of the college's faculty. He drove from Lexington, Ky., to the college in a Model A Ford and arrived on campus in mid-September one day before the start of the 1936-37 school year. He took the job for a salary of $75 a month plus room and board.

Shelton taught mathematics and physics, and in 1940 he was named the college's registrar and dean of faculty. Until then, A.P. White had served as the college's president, dean, registrar and Bible professor.

Shelton said he received a $25 raise to serve as the college's dean.

"I've always thought $25 was pretty much what a dean was worth," Shelton said in a 2006 interview.

In spring 1942, the Lindsey Wilson Board of Trustees name Shelton the college's executive vice president, a position which placed him in charge of day-to-day operations and effectively made him acting president while White battled cancer.

"When we started school in 1943, we only had about 55 students -- all of which were girls except a couple boys who were handicapped. The rest were gone to the service," Shelton said in 2006.

Shelton left LWC in June 1943 to enter the U.S. Air Corps. During World War II, he was a meteorologist in the 21st Weather Squadron, issuing weather forecasts to Allied forces in England, France and Germany. He left the Army Air Corps in 1946 as a captain, and then worked for one year for the Kentucky Department of Revenue.

Shelton returned to LWC in 1947 as registrar and dean of the faculty, a position he held until 1952.

When he returned to the college, enrollment had swollen to more than 180 students, largely because of an influx of veterans from World War II.

Shelton said there was a marked difference in the attitude among LWC male students. Before World War II, "a lot of the boys liked to play around a lot."

"If they didn't have to do something, they didn't do it," he said in the 2006 interview. "After the war, they were a different bunch. The men who came to campus after the war were much better students - they didn't play around as much because they learned what an education meant while they were in the service."

From 1952-1975, Shelton worked for the Dallas based Revere Copper & Brass Co., retiring as that company's district office supervisor. Shelton moved back to Columbia in 1979.

In the 2006 interview, Shelton recalled his two tours of duty at Lindsey Wilson with great fondness.

"It was a very simple place -- we just had gymnasium building, the girls' hall, the administration building, boys' hall and the little training school," he said. "I liked teaching at Lindsey Wilson more than anything I've done."

In 1996, the Lindsey Wilson College Board of Trustees and Faculty honored Shelton with a doctor of human letters, honoris causa.

Shelton was born Sept. 1, 1912, on a 100-acre farm in Clark County, Ky., located about five miles from Winchester, to the late Marshall and Jessie Ingram Shelton. Shelton earned a bachelor of arts degree in 1935 from Kentucky Wesleyan College, which was still located in Winchester. While a student at KWC, Shelton served as captain of the college's varsity basketball team. Shelton then earned a master of arts degree in 1937 from the University of Kentucky.

He came to LWC thanks to a contact with former LWC President R.V. Bennett. Shelton took classes from Bennett - who had become KWC's president and also taught math at the college. When a position opened at LWC, Bennett endorsed Shelton for the job.

"I was planning on getting my PhD in math, but the person who was teaching math (at LWC) got a job a UK, so Dr. Bennett helped me get the job down here," he said.

Shelton was most recently a member of the Columbia United Methodist Church.

Shelton was preceded in death by his first wife, Allie Breeding Dillon Shelton, an Adair County native and a 1937 LWC alumna; and a son, David A. Shelton.

Shelton is survived by his wife, Dorothy "Tillie" Wood Shelton, who is a 1952 LWC alumna; a son: Dan Shelton of Huntsville, Texas; a grandson, Richard B. Shelton of Plano, Texas; and three step-daughters: Sue Zanco of Baton Rouge, La., and Julie Bosworth and Margaret Carter, both of Charolotte, N.C.

Memorial Scholarships ...
Memorials are suggested to Columbia UMC, the Asa, Allie and David Shelton Scholarship Fund at LWC, or the Dorothy "Tillie" Shelton Scholarship Fund at LWC. To make a contribution to either LWC scholarship fun, contact the LWC Development Office at or (270) 384-8400.

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