Herschel Shelby Jr.


Herschel Floyd Shelby Jr.

Herschel F. Shelby Jr., 92, Indianapolis, died November 17, 2013. He was a proud, but humble member of America's Greatest Generation serving in World War II.

He was born on July 23, 1921, the son of Herschel F. Sr. and Edna M. (Umholtz) Shelby. A life-long resident of West Indianapolis, one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city with residents arriving in the 1820s, he attended William Penn Elementary School 49. As a young man he delivered milk to many of his neighbors and the surrounding community with his father who owned Hornaday Milk Co.

Herschel was a 1939 graduate of George Washington High School where he was a member of the ROTC and played solo trumpet for the group and the school's band. He also was one of the first members of the school's tennis team, and would later become a member of the George Washington Alumni Association 50 Year Club.

His love for music continued when he attended Indiana University for two-and-a-half years. He played trumpet in the famed Marching Hundred and the I.U. Concert bands. In 1940, the Concert band dedicated the first music hall at I.U. and on August 17, 1940 the Marching Hundred had the distinct honor of acting as the official escort of Presidential nominee Wendell L. Willkie in Elwood, Ind. It was also his band experience that would later lead him to be assigned to the First U.S. Army Corps Band, a designated special band performing at ceremonies, concerts, parades and recruiting drives. Herschel also was the bugler who called the troops in his division to begin and end their day.

In 1942 his studies in arts & science and business administration were put on hold when he was drafted to serve in World War II where he entered the U.S. Army Air Corps and served until 1945. His service included 11 months overseas with the Seventh Air Force Division and the 30th Bomb Group, 38th Bomb Squadron and 318th Bomb Squadron in Saipan. Although a licensed pilot under the I.U. Civilian Pilot training program, he was unable to fly due to being colorblind. A member of the B-24 aircraft crew, he flew in five combat missions as a technical sergeant specializing in radar observer sea search as a waist gunner. He operated and performed 1st echelon maintenance on radio sets and equipment SCR 517-717 and SPS-15.

His locations of service included the Air Offensive Japan, the Western Pacific and Eastern Mandates. Herschel earned an Asiatic Pacific Theater Ribbon with three bronze stars, an American Theater Ribbon, Army Good Conduct Medal and a World War II Victory Medal. For more biographical information go to: http://www.loc.gov/vets and search for Herschel's name.

Upon returning from military service on the USS Belleau Wood, he worked for Allison Transmission as a machine operator, but his skills and training in business would lead him to a life-long career in sales.

Herschel was a past owner of a restaurant in Mooresville, assisted in business at the Valhalla Bowling Alley, formerly located on W. Morris St. where his father was part owner and where he would eventually meet his wife of 51 years, Donna (Hutton). A salesman in the 1950s, he worked many years for Prudential where he would make the company's first Employer Sponsored Program sale earning him entry into the President's Club. He also worked many years for Gibraltar Mausoleum Corporation History of Gibraltar where he also was a member of the "Millionaires Club." He retired in the 1980s, but continued to sell health products through the final months of life.

Other memberships include the American Legion Post 500 (31 years), Amvets Post 99 (18), and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 908.

He was preceded in death by his parents, his loving wife Donna M. (Hutton) and son Patrick D. Shelby. Survivors: children Susan D. (Gerald "Gary") Wade, Greenwood, Jan D. (Kenneth) Woodard (Pennington Gap, VA), Jill D. Shelby Scicli, Craig D. (Janice) Shelby, Julie D. (James) Bault, and Joyce D. (Brent) Rickards, all of Indianapolis; nine grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; cousin Judith (Heim) Ritter and a special friend Betty (Schuck) Bothwell.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the GWHS Alumni Association 50 Year Club, in care of Susie Worland-Hartley, Correspondent Secretary, 4113 W. Gamble Road, Indianapolis, IN 46221. Friends may share a memory or send a condolence at: http://www.forestlawncemetery-fh.com. Forest Lawn Funeral Home , Greenwood, is handling arrangements.

A Celebration of Life will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, November 26 in Amvets Post 99 Louie V. Hider, 2840 Lafayette Road, with services there from 6 to 6:30 p.m. Private graveside services will be Wednesday, November 27 at Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens Cemetery, Greenwood.

Funeral Home
Forest Lawn Memory Gardens & Funeral Home - Greenwood
1977 South State Road 135
Greenwood, IN 46143
(317) 535-9003
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Published in the The Indianapolis Star on Nov. 21, 2013
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