David F. Sheldon, a resident of Bainbridge Island since 2008, died in his sleep on Thursday, June 2.
Born on Groundhog Day in 1929, David made full use of his 93 years with personal engagements that endeared him to many and professional accomplishments that earned him respect and admiration from his peers.
David was born in New York City and raised in Ponca City, Oklahoma, Fort Worth, Texas, and for most of his youth in Shaker Heights, Ohio. If there was a theme to these early years it was of a boy on the move – mostly on his bicycle zipping up and down the Midwest’s rolling hills.
His thirst for new experiences led him to complete his high school education at Uppingham School in the East Midlands of England. After college at Amherst and business school at Harvard he worked on Madison Avenue for three years before moving with the love of his life, Judy Sheldon, to Concord, Massachusetts where he accepted a position as a history teacher at Middlesex School. Following an additional stint as Director of Admissions, David became Middlesex’s third Headmaster, a position he held for twenty-six years. Upon retirement, he and Judy moved to Shelburne, Vermont where he directed the Shelburne Museum, a preeminent collection of American folk art, for an additional six years. Over the course of his career David served on many boards including Carroll School, Charles River School, InterAlp,
Athens College (Greece), the Headmasters Association, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Vermont Public Radio, and Shelburne Farms. Upon Judy’s passing, David moved to Bainbridge to be closer to his grandchildren.
David will be remembered for his humor, generosity, and keen intellect. He was a mentor to literally hundreds of girls and boys during his time at Middlesex, but also to family and friends who appreciated his listening skills and wise counsel. He was always an advocate for youth in a society that often discounted younger perspectives and voices. His passion for books, poetry, small boats, dogs, fishing, and bicycles continued to the very end of his life. On sunny afternoons he could almost always be found cycling Bainbridge’s south end byways and moving way too fast for a guy in his 90s. He loved the written word and was an energetic and dedicated correspondent. Many will greatly miss the pleasure of finding one of his letters in their mailbox.
David is survived by his three sons, Fred Sheldon (Donna), of Nashua, New Hampshire, Charles Sheldon (Sonja) of Millsfield, New Hampshire, and James Sheldon (Jennie) of Bainbridge Island, along with two grandchildren, Tyler Sheldon of Corvallis, Oregon and Jessie Sheldon of Homer, Alaska. Gifts may be made in his memory to Bainbridge Island Rowing to support completion of the new boathouse in Waterfront Park.
Arrangements are entrusted to the Cook Family Funeral Home of Bainbridge Island.