In approximately five weeks, Jim Shelton was to be honored for his contributions to Marshall County High School football by induction into the school’s athletic hall of fame.
The induction will take place as scheduled, but Shelton’s induction will be posthumous.
Shelton, a football institution at a basketball-dominated school, died Saturday. He was 62.
“I’m absolutely devastated,” said former Tribune-Courier sports editor John Wright, now a staffer at the Murray Ledger & Times.
“This world is a worse place with him not in it. What a huge loss.”
Wright’s remarks sum up sentiments about the loss of Marshall County’s most accomplished football coach.
Shelton set the standard for most football achievements at Marshall County, but current coach Ron Barnard noted that stats don’t begin to tell the story.
“In this case, it’s actually the smallest part of the story,” Barnard said. “It’s a perfect example of how you can’t measure the man by numbers.
“Impressive as his numbers were, his greatest success came from mentoring all those young men over the years.”
Shelton was a native of Mayfield who played for the powerhouse Cardinal football program.
Jack Morris, later head coach, was an assistant at Mayfield when Shelton played there in the 1960s.
“Jimmy was an excellent offensive and defensive lineman for us,” Morris said. “He was a really intense player and played at full speed every down, the kind of player that you want on your team. He led by example.”
Morris said Shelton went on to coaching success with the same attitude with which he played.
“Coach Shelton was known as one of the best line coaches in these parts,” Morris said. “He coached like he played – intense.”
Shelton and his 1995 district and region champion Marshals team were named June 26 among the inductees in the 2013 class of the Marshall County Athletic Foundation Hall of Fame.
Barnard noted that while Shelton was pleased to be named to the hall, it was his 1995 team’s selection that pleased him the most.
“In true Coach Shelton fashion, he was more concerned about his team making it,” Barnard said. “That’s him – he always put his kids first.”
Shelton, who led the Marshall County football program from 1990 until 2000, had the longest stint and the highest number of victories (78) in the history of the program.
He also coached baseball at Marshall County from 1978 to 1991.
Shelton suffered a heart attack during a visit to the home of his daughter in Chattanooga, Tenn. Despite resuscitation attempts, he was pronounced dead at Earlanger Hospital in Chattanooga.
Barry Danowski contributed to this report.