NEWPORT NEWS - William Bailey 'Bill' Sheldon Sr., a lifelong Virginia Peninsula resident, left this world to be with his Heavenly Father on Aug. 2, 2009, following a bout with prostate cancer and related illnesses.
He was a devout Christian and an active member of First United Methodist Church in Hilton Village since 1939. He had served on the Administrative Board, was Chairman of Church Council, member of the Bithynia Sunday School Class, member of the United Methodist Men, and had been presented a plaque by the Chancel Choir for his long years of service and near perfect attendance.
He was born in Southeast Newport News, Dec. 6, 1919, to Charles B. and Ethel Sheldon. He attended Magruder and Walter Reed Elementary and graduated from Newport News High School in February, 1937, with honors, having been awarded a school letter for outstanding service in the school print shop. Following graduation, he served an apprenticeship at the Franklin Printing Company and graduated from the International Typographical Union School of Printing in 1942, as a Journeyman Printer. He worked locally for the next 30 years in the Graphic Art Industry. He was active in the Boy Scout movement for many years and retired from scouting as a Life Scout and Scoutmaster.
At the outbreak of World War II, he enlisted in the Virginia State Guard, and served for the duration of the war, advancing to grade of Master Sergeant, 1st Class, and was assigned to Hq. Co., 2nd Bn. in Newport News.
He was proud of his community and state service. Several years after he married, he moved his family to a developing section of Jefferson Avenue in Warwick County. He then joined the Warwick County Volunteer Fire Association and after extensive training was made Asst. Chief in the Volunteers and was elected president of the Association. During his tenure he headed several fundraisers to buy ambulances that provided free emergency ambulance service to the community.
He was appointed Chief Forest Warden and served in that capacity until the consolidation of Newport News and Warwick, receiving commendations from the State Forester for his work in forest fire prevention and suppression. He also served as a special police officer in Warwick.
He was appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1958, and when the J.P. system was abolished and the Magistrates system substituted, he was appointed Chief Magistrate, and served until his retirement. He was a Justice of the Peace and Magistrate for 28 years. He was appointed Marriage Commissioner in 1974. Having married thousands of couples, he served in that capacity until his passing. He also served as a Notary Public since 1953.
Bill was an avid hunter and fisherman and had a large collection of trophy game fish, birds and animals he had taken in North America. He was an expert rifleman and varmint hunter and had the respect and appreciation of farmers in Southeast Virginia for his help in crop damage control by killing groundhogs and other varmints. He was a charter member of the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fishing Association, Peninsula Sportsmen's Association, North America Hunt Club, and a long time member of Central Hill Hunt Club in Isle of Wight County.
He is survived by his wife, of 66 years, Greig Campbell Sheldon; a daughter, Martha Ann Willis and son-in-law, Jimmy Willis of Suffolk; a daughter, Joy Sheldon Gosselin; son, Nicholas; step-grandchildren, David M. and Jennifer Gosselin of Williamsburg; daughter-in-law, Cindy Sheldon of Richmond; grandchildren, Michael and Kelly. He is also survived by nieces, nephews, cousins and his many close church friends and neighbors.
He was preceded in death by his son-in-law, David J. Gosselin in October of 2007; and his son, William B. Sheldon Jr., in July of 2008.
He has been loved and will be missed by his family and friends.
The family will have a visitation from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2009, at Peninsula Funeral Home, 11144 Warwick Blvd., Newport News, VA 23601, (757) 595-4424. The funeral service will be held at First United Methodist Church on Thursday Aug. 6 at 2 p.m., by the Rev. John LeGault, and following interment at Peninsula Memorial Park, a reception for family and friends will be held in the Fellowship Hall by the Bereavement Committee.
The family is requesting in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to First United Methodist Church Memorial Fund, 10246 Warwick Blvd, Newport News, VA 23601, or the David J. Gosselin Memorial Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 5655, Williamsburg, VA 23188. View and post condolences on our online guestbook at dailypress.com/guestbooks.
Published by Daily Press from Aug. 3 to Aug. 4, 2009.