Friends and family recall Rod Shelledy's amazing life
King City Lions Club member was one of a kind
A memorial service followed by a celebration of life were held for Rodney Floyd Shelledy of Tigard on Jan. 20, with nearly 100 friends and family members sharing laughs and a few tears as they heard and shared story after story about his remarkable life.
Rod, who was born Oct. 13, 1930, in Spokane, Wash., and passed away Jan. 9, 2013, at home, lived in Tigard, but he was one of the most active members of the King City Lions Club, which hosted a celebration of life luncheon at the King City Clubhouse following the memorial service at Young's Funeral Home and Crematory in Tigard.
Certified celebrant Dee Mitchell conducted the memorial service, sharing how Rod grew up learning family values and community service from his parents.
"What I know about Rod is that he was a man who gave freely of his time," Mitchell said. "He worked hard, took care of his wife and family, and still believed in the need for service work. Rod understood the importance of volunteering. He also believed in community and that it takes everyone in a community to make it a good place to live."
Rod, the son of Floyd and Myrtle Shelledy, grew up during the Great Depression in small-town America. Rod had two older sisters, Marian, who was 12 years older, and Roberta who was seven years older.
Rod's dad ran the village switchboard in Valley, Wash.
"There were 250 people in the village, and that was only if you counted the kids and dogs," Mitchell said. "Rod's dad Floyd was often paid with a ham or a couple of chickens. Eventually General Telephone bought Floyd out, and he then sold insurance from his home."
As an aside, Mitchell mentioned that Rod won a cutest baby contest when he was tiny.
Rod graduated from Valley High School in the class of 1949, with 12 seniors in his graduating class. While in high school and on summer breaks Rod worked for the local farmers to make money. Rod learned to drive by operating farm equipment.
In 1952, Rod went to Everett, Wash., to take some classes at the community college there, and Rod didn't know it at the time, but he met the love of his life, Jeannine. However, they lost touch until 1954, when they ran into each other again at a singles group at a church they both attended. Their first date was dancing at the Elks Club in Everett where Rod was a member. Rod would go on to become a lifetime member of the Elks Club.
On the night they got engaged, they celebrated this special occasion by going to a restaurant to have dinner and then dancing, but it turned out Rod had taken his new fiancée to a restaurant where ladies of the evening worked upstairs.
Rod and Jeannine were married May 26, 1956, and made their first home in Everett. Rod worked for West Coast Telephone and stayed with the company after it became General Telephone and Electronics, or GTE, and retired after 35 years when it was Verizon.
However, he went back and helped with the transition from old equipment to new updated equipment and retired again in 1989.
Rod and Jeannine's first child was Carol, followed by Patty, Robert and Sarah.
Rod had a big heart and understood the need to volunteer and help in his community. Rod loved to be around children, and he coached Little League baseball before he had a son and even after Robert was grown.
As the kids were growing up, the family would go camping and had a station wagon named Betsy with a big red box that they tied to the top of the car. It was aerodynamically shaped with a slant to help with the gas mileage, but it didn't have a top on it, so one day while driving down the freeway, the camp stove went flying down the road.
Rod had been transferred with the phone company to the Portland area in November 1974, and the Shelledys settled in Tigard.
Rod was a 45-year member of the Lions Club. He belonged to more than one club - first in Everett, then in Tigard and finally King City.
Rod was the club's sight and hearing chairman, and he coordinated the delivery of the Regal Courier in King City and newspaper recycling as well.
He made coffee and served refreshments at the Lions twice-monthly bingo games. Rod always worked at the pancake breakfast and served Thanksgiving dinner, and he handed out flags to first-graders for Presidents Day every February. And Rod organized the Lion's club flea market each year.
Over the last 10 years, Rod developed macular degeneration and had difficulties with his hearing and eventually getting around, but that didn't stop him from getting Jeannine to drive him so they could continue their volunteer work.
Mitchell concluded at the memorial service, "The world is better because Rodney Shelledy lived, and his life was a gift to us all."
When Mitchell asked if anyone would like to talk about Rod, his nephew Roger Dorway told about the phone company being the family business.
"Rod would string the lines and set up the poles, and the women in the family would answer the phones," he said. "There were party lines back then, and the 'communication revolution' was using crank phones. The family was the 9-1-1, the 4-1-1 and the 5-1-1.
"They knew all the secrets, although they respected what they heard and kept it in confidence, but if anyone wanted to know something, they called the Shelledys."
Bill Gerkin, president of the King City Lions Club, said that as chairman of the sight and hearing program, Rod would process and approve applications for hearing aids and eyeglasses for King City and Tigard-area disbursements so people could get them sooner and not have to wait for approval at the next board meeting.
Gerkin also told a story about when he, Rod and retired King City dentist John Chessar were trying to return folding tables to the Tigard Senior Center, they found the lower-level door locked.
There was an event going on with a mariachi band playing, so Gerkin went in the main door upstairs and walked through the center down to the lower level to open the door from the inside, only to find Rod and John dancing to the music.
Immediate past president of the Lions Club, Scott Stierle, said, "Rod was always a good guy to work with. He will be sorely missed. We will have a hard time replacing him - it will probably take one-fifth of the club to replace him."
Jerry Fogerty, who first met Rod when they were 3 years old, played together all through their childhoods, even taking all the ingredients for breakfast along with a frying pan into the woods to cook and eat.
Ed Klasek, who got monthly reminder calls from Rod before the Lions club assembled the Regal Couriers for delivery, said, "When you first met him, you would never know what a dedicated person he was. He only missed calling me once. He was always trying to help, and I thank him for all he did for the community."
Miriam Crow said that she and Rod worked on several projects together and often met in the King City Clubhouse kitchen.
"He set out the coffee and cookies, and I drank the coffee and ate the cookies," she said. "One time after we talked about an issue of concern, he said, 'You'll be fine,' and I heard him say that to other people. I will remember Rod saying, 'You'll be fine.'"
Lion Larry Torrey also remembered that Rod was very involved in working in the kitchen during bingo.
"I had a hard time beating him here," Torrey said. "One time we were making coffee, and I asked how much to put in, and he said, 'Just put some in there.'
"He worked really hard, and we're having a hard time filling all the big holes he left in the club. He was an asset."
Gerkin told the crowd that Rod also was the Lion's club "lion tamer," which meant he and Jeannine had to pick up all the equipment - including 205 international flags, award banners, name tags and so forth - from the storage unit in King City and take it to the twice-a-month meetings in downtown Tigard.
And Jeannine shared one of the best stories about Rod: "He would look at the computer and say, 'I wonder what this button does?' We crashed a few times!"
Rod is survived by his beloved wife Jeannine; his daughter Carol and son-in-law Bobby; his daughter Patty and son-in-law Steve; his son Robert; and his daughter Sarah. He also is survived by many nieces and nephews.