Esther L. Shelton

By on May 24, 2011

Esther L. Shelton, 91, of Canton, Ill., formerly of Aurora, Metropolis, Ill., and Elburn, passed away Saturday, May 21, at Heartland Healthcare in Canton.

She was born Jan. 24, 1920, on the Downing farm in Virgil, the daughter of Swedish immigrants, Carl E. and Clara (Magnusson) Swanson.

Esther grew up in Virgil and attended local schools. She graduated from St. Charles High School at age 16 in 1936.

She continued her education by completing her nurses training at Copley Memorial Hospital, where she worked before serving in the United States Army Nurse Corp. From October 1942 to August 1943, Esther served her country at Fort Sam Houston and Brook General in San Antonio, Texas, before taking her talents to Army-Navy General in Hot Springs, Ark., until her honorable discharge as a 1st Lt. in December 1945.

She was united in marriage to John L. Shelton on March 31, 1943, in San Antonio, Texas. They made a million memories for 44 years until his passing on July 11, 1987.

Esther was born with a heart made for caring, and she continued that legacy as a head nurse on the fourth floor of Copley Memorial Hospital in Aurora from 1950 to 1970. Following her “retirement” in 1970, Esther and John purchased a farm near Metropolis, but while John worked the land, Esther answered the call for caring when she began working at Massac Memorial Hospital in Metropolis, as well as a local nursing home before really retiring in 1985. In 1989, Esther moved to Elburn to live with her brother and sister.

She was a faithful member of Grace Lutheran Church in both Lily Lake and Canton. She was also a member of the Copley Nurses Alumni Association and the American Legion Auxiliary in Elburn.

Esther’s heart was always giving, and her hands were never idle. When she wasn’t caring for others, she kept busy knitting sweaters and blankets for family, friends and church bazaars, working crossword puzzles, playing solitaire and dominoes. She loved to cook and was renowned for her spaghetti as well as her red velvet cake. She also brought her garden to life with all the vibrant colors Mother Nature could provide.

In quiet moments, Esther could travel to distant lands as she turned to pages of her favorite books. Those quiet moments could be shattered, however, when her beloved Chicago Cubs were playing. There was no bigger fan than Esther. Her legacy as a loving aunt and a friend to many will be remembered for many years and generations to come.

She is survived by two nieces, Sharyn ( Dr. John) Baker of Moline, Ill., and Sandra (Dan) Ihnes of Canton, Ill.; one great-niece; three great-nephews; two great-great nieces; two great-great nephews; and a family of friends. She is preceded in death by her parents; two brothers, Hilding and Carl Swanson; four sisters, Ethel Swanson, Ruth Swanson, Mildred (Leland) Taber and Alice (Roy) Pinegar.

Visitation was from 11 a.m. to noon with a funeral service to celebrate her life following the visitation on Wednesday, May 25, at Conley Funeral Home, 116 W. Pierce St., Elburn. Rev. Ernst Rex, pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Lily Lake, officiated, and interment followed at Blackberry Township Cemetery, Elburn.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established in her name to benefit her favorite churches, Grace Lutheran Church in both Lily Lake and Canton, Ill. Checks may be made to the “Esther Shelton Memorial” and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, 60119. Tributes may also be forwarded to the same address or on the web at