Shelton’s 100th birthday celebration Sunday
NILES -- Family, friends and neighbors are invited to join Ethan Shelton as he celebrates his centennial birthday.
There will be an "Open House" in his honor on Sunday, July 13, from 1 to 6 p.m. at the Denise Shelton Memorial Picnic Pavilion located on Jones Road 3/4th mile south of Pokagon Road. (Maps are available at Shelton's Farm Market in Niles.)
The Shelton family will also be celebrating the 50th wedding anniversary for Ethan's son Jim and his wife Betty.
Ethan was born in Fayette County, Ala., in 1903, five months before the first airplane flight by the Wright brothers.
In 1926, he married Rose Marie Zimmerman in Chicago. He and "Miss Rosey" were happily married for 69 years until her passing in 1995.
Together they raised a large family, including five sons and two daughters: Ron, Jean (Marston), Norman (deceased), Jim, Martha Ann (Webber), Kenneth (deceased) and Joe.
To date, the family includes more than 100 grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren.
Two years after marrying Rose, Ethan got a "hankerin' to go home." So he loaded Miss Rosey and baby Ronald and all their worldly possessions that would fit into and onto his Model T Ford and made the trek from Chicago to Alabama.
For the next 18 years, they raised cotton and most of their family through the depths of the Great Depression. In 1945, their young son Kenneth developed serious health problems, so they sold the family farm and moved back to Chicago to be closer to the hospital at the University of Chicago.
They owned and operated a neighborhood grocery store on the near north side of Chicago for two years through the days of rationing during and immediately following World War II.
Ethan and Rose moved their family from Chicago to Berrien County and founded Shelton Farms in 1947. The business has grown through the years to include Shelton's Farm Market and Shelton's Wholesale Co. in Niles.
The businesses are now owned and operated in various capacities by three sons Ron, Jim and Joe and grandson Mike. Through the years, daughters Jean and Martha Ann have played key roles in the business, as have a number of other grandchildren, including Don (produce buyer), David (farm manager) and Kevin (shipping manager).
For many years, Ethan also barbered to supplement the farming operation. He owned Shelton's BarberShop on Front Street in Niles until his retirement in the late 1960s. Many of his barber shop customers fondly refer to him as "Tex" or as the "Southern Gentleman."
Ethan is still very active. He is an avid gardener, golfer, and ballroom dancer. In addition, he plays a wide assortment of musical instruments and attends great many birthday parties and other functions with his ever-growing family.
He is a member of the Berrien Center Bible Church and the Moose Lodge in Buchanan.
Ethan has been a consistent source of pride for his family. His persistence, his positive thinking and his warm sense of humor have set a standard for us all. He is truly a remarkable man.