Mitchell Ray Shelby, 77, of Cape Girardeau, Mo., died peacefully on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023, surrounded by his family at Missouri Veterans Home.
He was born Feb. 1, 1946, in Sikeston, Mo., to Cecil and Violet Nelson Shelby. He grew up in New Madrid, Mo., and graduated from New Madrid High School in 1964, where he excelled in basketball, track and baseball.
Mitch served in the U.S. Army from 1966-1968. He fought in Vietnam in 1967 and was in the First Infantry Division (Big Red One). He was awarded the Bronze Star, and Combat Infantry Badge among other medals and awards. He later worked at the Pentagon several summers with the Army Reserves.
After the Army, he enrolled at Southeast Missouri State University, where he met his future wife, Karen Wilmsmeyer. They were married on Aug. 21, 1971. After graduating from Southeast Missouri State University, Mitch and Karen moved to Salem, Mo., where they began their teaching careers in 1972. Mitch was a PE teacher and basketball and baseball coach there. He then went on to become a State Farm Insurance agent in Houston, Mo., in 1976. After four years as an agent, he went into management and moved back to Cape Girardeau in 1981. He hired many of the present State Farm agents serving Southeast Missouri. Mitch had a very successful career with State Farm and retired in 2010 after 34 years.
Mitch and Karen were blessed with two children, Jodie and Justin. Many years were spent together at Kentucky Lake. They enjoyed fishing, boating and water skiing. Mitch taught many people to ski behind his boat. He loved coaching children in Little League baseball and basketball. In his later years, he found great joy in watching his grandchildren participate in sports and activities. He couldn’t brag enough about them.
He and his wife, Karen, loved traveling and were thankful to have seen different countries and places throughout the world on State Farm trips. He enjoyed hunting and fishing as evidenced by the trophy mounts hanging in his basement. He also enjoyed golfing with his buddies and grilling on his deck for family and friends. He was a great all-around cook and loved making big breakfasts.
He was usually the life of the party and loved telling stories and jokes, which sometimes got him into trouble. He was witty and funny right up until the very end, even keeping the Veterans Home staff laughing. He had a big heart and was loved by so many.
Survivors include wife, Karen Shelby of Cape Girardeau; daughter, Jodie (Eric) Ticer of Jackson, Mo.; son, Justin (Britt) Shelby of Houston, Mo.; sister, Sherry (Leland) Phillips of New Madrid, Mo.; brother, Terry (Kay) Shelby of Sikeston, Mo.; sister-in-law, Doris Conn of O’Fallon, Mo.; five grandchildren, Lawson and Landon Ticer, Cannon Monroe, Ford and Forrester Shelby; and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Cecil and Violet Shelby; brother-in-law, John Conn; and many aunts, uncles and cousins.
Visitation will be 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, October 6, 2023 at Ford & Sons Mt. Auburn Chapel in Cape Girardeau.
Funeral service will follow 1 p.m. Friday at the funeral home with the Rev. Brett Cheek officiating.
Burial will be at New Lorimier Cemetery in Cape Girardeau, with full military honors.
Memorial contributions may be given to Wounded Warriors Project. You may also choose to give blood or platelets to the American Red Cross in honor of Mitch, who received numerous transfusions.
Online condolences may be made at www.fordandsonsfuneralhome.com.