Thursday, September 19, 2019
Article Image Alt Text

Gary Lee Shelley

Gary Lee Shelley was born to Kenneth Lee Shelley and Hazel Irene Jackson Shelley on April 22, 1943, in Mobridge, S.D.

Kenneth Shelley was a pioneer pastor so the family moved around the “wild west” where they conducted services for the Wesleyan Methodist Church.

They moved from Mobridge to Deadwood, S.D., where the occasional stand off between the wild parties of the cowboys and the hell, fire and brimstone pastor added to the local lore. After five years, the church was doing well so the family moved to Miles City, Mont., where Kenneth started another church.

After the building was constructed, the family moved to Terry, Mont., where the free wheeling independent and colorful men about town met their match with the preacher man in a confrontation intended to tar and feather him and drive him out of town.

After one year, they had successfully started a church and completed a building project.

The family moved to Joliet, Mont., where another successful church was started. By that time, Gary, now in 7th grade, had shown his immense musical talent, as had his younger brother. Together, the four siblings became the musical Shelley kids, complimenting their father’s ministry.

From Joliet, the family moved to a suburb of Anchorage, Alaska, where Kenneth worked with a man wishing to become a pastor, assisting him in establishing a church. On winter days, Gary and his siblings walked to the school bus in the dark and walked home in the dark, marveling at the moon shining on 3 to 4 inches of snow on the dark green evergreen branches — the world wrapped in silence.

From the generous windows of the school, they watch the moose come out to graze on the football field as the sun set in the afternoon.

The family moved for the summer to North Dakota on the old Shelley ranch where Gary became adept at racing the horses with his cousins. That fall they moved to Fairview, Mont., where Rev. Shelley took his brood to minister to a dwindling community of believers in a Nazarene church.

Gary’s vocal gift became more and more apparent. A move back to Joliet, Mont., allowed Gary to finish high school with old friends.  Then it was on to college in Miltonvale, Kan., which Gary attended for three semesters until physical problems necessitated his leaving. Simultaneous with college, Gary received training in radio, television, and electronics, receiving high-level certifications, which he grew into a popular repair business. Gary ran Shelley Radio until his retirement.

Gary moved with his family to Iowa to take care of his grandmother. There he worked in a local nursing home being responsible for medications and other patient care activities.  Rev. Shelley was asked to fill in for a minister at a nearby Wesleyan Church. The young gal at the piano caught Gary’s eye and soon he was a regular visitor at Dorothy Sherburne’s home. Coming back from his visits he would justify his attraction by constantly bragging on Dorothy’s intelligence.

The two were married and eventually moved to Montana where they raised their son Jim. Gary and Dorothy joined the Absarokee Evangelical church where he became an usher and then installed and operated the sound system for the church services.

While running Shelley Radio in Absarokee, Gary also ran the TV Translator club, for years providing the only television reception available in town. Among his many responsibilities was the daunting task of driving a steep inhospitable rocky trail to work on electronics equipment housed in a forlorn tin shed.

His mother could be found praying for Gary’s protection during those hours that he climbed the large broadcast antennas in the cold wind. Little did the townspeople know of the dare devil who took the challenge that they might sit in front of their fireplace with a brew and a bowl of popcorn, ensuring they did not miss the Super Bowl.

Funeral services for Gary Shelley will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, at the Absarokee Evangelical Church. Visitation will be held prior to the service from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the church.

The graveside service will follow at Rosebud Cemetery in Absarokee.  Memorial designations in Gary’s name may be made to the Absarokee Evangelical Church or Beartooth Christian Camp, 34 Woodard Avenue, Absarokee, MT 59001.  Condolences for the family may be shared at