Eugene Shelar

Published 1:14 pm Wednesday, February 28, 2024

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Eugene Shelar passed away at 103 in his home at Kendal at Lexington on February 21, 2024, in Lexington, VA.

He was born in New Castle, PA, on July 28, 1920. At age 7 he moved with his family to Slippery Rock, PA, where his father taught Biology. Gene graduated from Slippery Rock College with a BS in Physical Education and Science. He married Florence Josephine Campbell (Jo) in 1940 and was drafted into the Navy, spending WWII on LST1024 in the Pacific and later becoming a Lt. Commander in the Active Navy Reserve. On the GI Bill, he earned an MS and PhD in Nature Studies from Cornell in 1949.

In 1950 Gene moved his wife and growing family to become a professor of biology at New Haven State Teachers College (today Southern Connecticut State University). Gene excelled especially at teaching botany field courses. He proved a successful administrator as well, serving both as Chairman of the Biology Department and also as Director of the Student Affairs Committee, which oversaw the financial governance of both men’s and women’s athletics, fraternities, sororities, and clubs.

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After 27 years Gene retired early in 1977 to undertake part time jobs as an Interpretive Ranger for the National Park Service. He became a full time Ranger in 1979, summering at Cape Hatters National Seashore on North Carolina’s Outer Banks and wintering at Everglades National Park in Florida.

After his wife died in 1985, Gene began to travel, enjoying his hobby of photography. Once retired from the Park Service in 1987 and settled permanently in Frisco on Cape Hatters, NC, he traveled extensively, photographing wildlife in areas as diverse as Ireland, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Africa, several South American countries, and Antarctica. Travel and photography became a major focus during his retirement years, along with printing his own color photographs, a collection of which is displayed in the South Building at Kendal at Lexington.

In 1993 Gene married his second wife, Victoria Cudahy. They moved to Kendal at Lexington in 2009. Gene is survived by his wife, Victoria, and his children Eugene, Martha, and William, as well as 4 grandchildren, 4 great-grandchildren, and 1 great-great-grandson. One other child, John (Jack) died in 2018.

Gene’s quick sense of humor and engaging personality will be greatly missed by his family but also by everyone fortunate enough to have known him or be taught by him or walk a trail with him.

As per Gene’s wishes, there will be no funeral service. His ashes will be scattered at a later date. Arrangements by Harrison Funeral Home & Crematory, Lexington.