Mills & Mills Funeral Home & Memorial Park

5725 Littlerock Road SW, Tumwater, WA


Ronald D. Shelton

February 17, 1932December 9, 2019

Ronald Dean Shelton was born in Muscogee, Oklahoma to parents Opal Dean and Cletus Harold Benson. His only sibling, Cletus Harold Benson Jr., was three years older. Harold passed in 2005. Ron’s parents divorced when he was about 6 years old. His Mother then married his step dad, George Ray Shelton, to whom Ron grew very close. The family moved from Oklahoma to the California Bay area where he graduated from the local Technical High School in 1950. He enlisted in the Marine Corp and spent a year deployed to North Korea during the Korean War where he served as a tank driver. He affectionately named his tank Opal, after his mother. Ron was honorably discharged from the Corps in Nov 1953. He met his wife, Barbara Joann Stokes, in 1954 and they married on July 21, 1954 in Reno Nevada. They had two daughters, Shawnee Dean Myers (Dan) in 1955, and Mahona Jo Sampson (Richard) in 1962. He also had a step son, Michael Stokes who was born to Barbara in 1953.

Soon after his discharge from the Marines, Ron went to work for Western Electric (AT&T) as an Installer. The job took him and his family around the Northern California area. They lived most of that time in Napa Valley. This is where he met his dear friend, Bill Hackworth. Ron and Bill spent many years fishing and hunting and they remain best friends today. Ron and Barbara traveled and had many happy times with Bill and his wife Helga over many years. Ron recently visited Bill at his coastal home in Depoe Bay, Oregon. Ron was an active outdoorsman, to say the least. His love was fishing but he also spent time with his family on the northern California coast skin diving with friends for abalone. Shawnee was about 14 years old before she realized that not everyone ate abalone all the time. One weekend after a successful harvest all shucked and ready for the freezer, the family was approached by game wardens that inspected the catch. Apparently, there was a law that Ron was unaware of, stating that you could not transport the shellfish out of the shell. They fined Ron and confiscated the entire catch. Upon returning home that afternoon, Ron threw away his wetsuit. After that, he stuck with fishing and hunting.

Ron commuted to San Francisco for years until the drive became long and frustrating. In 1967 he requested a transfer to the Great NW and moved the family to Vancouver Washington. Then, in 1974 the job took him, Barbara, and Mahona to Tumwater, Washington where he retired in 1986 at the age of 54. This gave him lots of time to fish. He spent weeks at a time in his boat, The Green Frog, on the ocean in Neah Bay fishing for Salmon, Halibut, and Cod. This is what he loved the most.

After retirement, Ron went to the Coast Guard School in Portland where he became a certified Captain of large fishing vessels. He spent three summers at resorts in Alaska as a successful skipper taking resort guests out fishing for enormous Halibut and Salmon. He was the Fish Whisperer. He could smell them out and other boats would follow him around the waters trying to get in on his catch. Ron received and kept numerous letters from customers that he had taken out fishing in Alaska expressing their gratitude for his expertise as well as his wit and kindness.

Ron spent many hunting seasons with friends in Montana and other parts of the NW harvesting various game. In addition to fishing and hunting, Ron was an accomplished wood worker. He built furniture, canoes, a dingy, and other wonderful items. Several of his works of art are still in the family.

Ron is survived by his wife Barbara, daughters Shawn and Mahona, step son Michael, four grandchildren, Ronee Marie Parsons, Daniel Lyons Myers III, Emily Morgan Johnson, Karlee Jo Sampson, four great grandkids: Elvis Lee Parsons, Kira Jay-Lougheed, Braxen Robert Dean Johnson and Hudson Lyons Myers.


  • Memorial Service Friday, January 17, 2020
  • Reception Friday, January 17, 2020


Ronald D. Shelton

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