Shelton’s Jimbo Shelton wins Pat Moody Award

Published 1:37 pm Monday, February 19, 2024

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NILES — A local businessman has been recognized for his decades of success and service in the community.

Jim “Jimbo” Shelton of Shelton’s Farm Market was awarded the Pat Moody Award at the Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber’s 2024 Business Recognition Breakfast Friday at the Mendel Center in Benton Harbor. The award, named after Moody on The Market founder and publisher Pat Moody, recognizes a community member’s devotion to business success and community service in southwest Michigan.

Accepting the award in Jimbo’s place was his grandson, City of Niles Mayor Nick Shelton.

Jimbo was described by the SMRC as “a testament to the power of hard work, resilience, and a positive attitude.” Born in 1931 near Reform, Alabama, Jimbo’s early years on a humble 200-acre farm shaped his work ethic and “whatever it takes” philosophy.

Growing up without electricity or plumbing, Jimbo learned the value of hard work and resourcefulness. Eventually, he joined his father, the late Ethan Shelton, on the new 40 acre family farm (“weed patch”) in Berrien Center.

A self-made man, Jimbo’s education went beyond formal schooling. He joined the Paratroopers, stationed in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. It was there that he met his late wife, “Miss Betty,” and later returned to the family farm, expanding it to nearly 300 acres.

Jimbo’s commitment to the farm and his vision for a retail market led to the establishment of Shelton’s Fruit Stop in 1959. Despite skepticism from others, the fruit stop thrived, eventually becoming Shelton’s Farm Market, and cementing itself as a staple in the community for over 65 years. Jimbo’s dedication to providing the freshest quality produce and exceptional customer service continues to set Shelton Farms apart.

Jimbo’s work ethic and ability to make work enjoyable influenced his family, with his children and grandchildren actively involved in Shelton Farms. Notably, four generations are involved in the business today, including Jimbo’s brother (Joe), sons (Mike and Jon), grandson (Nick), granddaughter (Emery), and countless nieces and nephews.

Today, the family business spans three divisions: the farm in Berrien Center, the retail market in Niles, and the food service division distributing to institutions in Southwestern Lower Michigan and Northern Indiana. With nearly 100 employees, many of whom feel like family, Shelton’s has become a multi-generational enterprise.

Now, at the age of 93, Jimbo continues to work seven days a week, overseeing many of the farm market’s operations. His “All In” attitude extends beyond work to his love for watching local sports, fishing, playing cards, and spending time with family. Jimbo’s impact on the community, both tangible and intangible, is immeasurable, as he has provided jobs and inspiration to countless individuals.

As the winner of the Pat Moody award, Jimbo Shelton’s legacy is not just about fruit peddling, but about resilience, community support, and instilling a passion for hard work in generations to come.