Friends will gather Sunday for Ethan Shelton’s 106th birthday

Published 10:27 am Friday, July 10, 2009

BERRIEN SPRINGS – Family, friends and neighbors are invited to join Ethan Shelton as he celebrates his 106th birthday. There will be an “Open House” in his honor on Sunday July 12 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Denise Shelton Memorial Picnic Pavilion, located east of Berrien Springs, on Jones Road 3/4th mile south of Pokagon Road. (Maps are available at Shelton’s Farm Market in Niles.)
A picnic buffet will be offered from 1:30   until 2:30 p.m.
The year 1903 saw the beginning of many great things: Teddy bears, ice cream  cones, Crayola crayons, Harley-Davidson motorcycles, Pepsi Cola, airplanes, and in Fayette County, Alabama the birth of Ethan Brotherton Shelton.
Ethan has seen the beginnings of many things in his lifetime: Whirlpool (1911), commercial radio (1920), television (1925), movies with sound (1926), antibiotics (1944), lasers (1960), and home computers (late 1970s), not to mention living through two World Wars.
In 1926, Ethan married Rose Marie Zimmerman in Chicago, Ill. 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 (Anna), Jean (Joe) Marston, Norman (deceased), Jim (Betty), Martha Ann (“Bunk”) Webber, Kenneth (deceased) and Joe (Deb).
To date, the family has grown to over 120 children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren.
In 1928, Ethan 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 back home to Alabama, where they spent the next 18 years, through the depths of the Great Depression. In 1945, they sold the family farm and moved back to Chicago where they owned and operated a neighborhood grocery store on the near north side.
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 (buying), David (farming) and Kevin (shipping).
For many years, Ethan also barbered to supplement the farming operation. He owned Shelton’s Barber Shop on Front Street in Niles until his retirement in the mid 1960s.
Ethan is an avid gardener, and with Martha Ann’s help he fills two freezers each year with veggies. Golf continues to be his favorite game. The golf outings he likes best include Father’s Day at Indian Lake and outings at Notre Dame and Hemlock Lake.
He plays a wide assortment of musical instruments and travels to Wakarusa, Ind. as often as he can to make music. Ballroom dancing is still one of his favorite pastimes, although not one he does as often as he would like. And of course, he attends many birthday parties and other functions with his ever-growing family.
Ethan is a member of the Berrien Center Bible Church where he attends each Sunday. Ethan continues to make many new friends and to inspire those around him, and has been a consistent source of pride for his family. His persistence, positive thinking and warm sense of humor have set a standard for us all. He is truly a remarkable man. Come and join us at his open house.