A Turtle’s Tribute:
James David Shelton, 75, of Rancho Mirage, Calif., died Jan. 8 following a valiant three-year fight with liver cancer. His two beloved children, Maria and Raymond, were at his side when he slipped away peacefully.
Shelton was born Dec. 31, 1936, in Lubbock, the son of the late Eva Robinson Shelton and Raymond D. Shelton. He graduated from The University Of California at Berkeley in 1959 and received his masters in science at The University of North Texas in 1991.
In 1963, Shelton moved to Amarillo to work for Santa Fe Railroad. It was there that his two children were born. He was co-owner of Adams-Shelton Communications with his long-time business partner, Keith Adams, owning several radio stations in West Texas, including Z-93 and KLS. He and Adams were also publishers of Accent West magazine. Shelton served on the Northwest Texas Hospital Board of Directors, including one term as president.
His dedication to his own recovery and sharing that with others lead him to the next chapter of his life as a substance abuse and addictions counselor and interventionist. Shelton began his career in Dallas in the early 1990s, working for several treatment facilities in the North Texas area.
During this time, he also became active in the Dallas LGBT community, starting a support group for married gay men that is still in existence today.
He was a member of The Turtle Creek Chorale for several seasons and also a member of the Episcopal Church of St. Thomas the Apostle.
In 1995, he relocated to Palm Springs where he worked as counselor in various programs at The Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage for 12 years, until leaving in 2005 to form his own intervention practice. He continued to do contract work for The Betty Ford Center until shortly before his death.
Through his work, Shelton touched the lives of countless people seeking recovery from alcoholism and addiction who will be forever grateful for the change he inspired in their lives.
Just prior to his death, Shelton was made an emeritus member of The Network of Independent Interventionists in recognition of his years of dedication and service in the recovery field.
He is survived by his life partner of 17 years, Richard Burckhardt of Rancho Mirage; his daughter, Maria Lynn Shelton Dameron and son-in-law, Mark Wallace Dameron, of Centennial, Colo.; his son, Raymond Ted Shelton of Dallas; his granddaughters, Camille and Eden Dameron of Centennial, Colo.; his brothers, Bill Shelton of Aledo and John Shelton of Fort Worth; two nieces and three nephews.
A celebration of his life will be held at a later date. The family requests that donations in his memory be made to underwrite The Betty Ford Center Children’s Program operating in Dallas, Denver and Rancho Mirage. Please make checks payable to The Betty Ford Center Foundation, 41-990 Cook Street, Suite C-301, Palm Desert, Calif., 92211.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 13, 2012.