Trinity — William “Hayward” Shelton, born October 4, 1935, was the eldest of 11 children. He was born to the Rev. Earnest and Eva Bowling Shelton. He passed from this life on November 19, 2021, at age 86. A memorial visitation is planned on Sunday, November 28 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Parkway Funeral Home.
Hayward spent his career working at Wolverine Tube, from the age of 19 until his retirement in 1992 at the age of 57. Hayward was a man of many talents. He was a skilled carpenter and builder. He was an avid hunter - especially of deer, a fisherman, and was also skilled at golf. He had a way with plants, animals, equipment, and loved working on his farm. He especially liked people and when his children were younger, spent many years helping as both a football and a baseball coach in youth league. He also spent many years helping the baseball program at East Lawrence High School- especially working with the pitchers .
He always had a giving heart. Even in his retirement years, Hayward never stopped helping others. He, and a sibling, often Marshall, or his brother-in-law, Bobby, were always looking for “older” people in the community who might need a yard mowed, a driveway smoothed, leaves removed from a yard, a door fixed, a window repaired, or etc. No one ever accused him of slacking on any job or of not doing his best.
The same could be said of this career of playing baseball - both in high school and in the years afterward. He was a stand-out pitcher on the LCHS Red Devil High School team and spent one year pitching for Florence State College. After that, he tried out for and earned a spot on the Houston Pro team as a pitcher. Who knows how well he might have done, if he had not been accidentally shot in the legs by one of his brothers during a hunting outing before showing up to the Houston training camp. Even after being told he would probably lose his leg and never walk again, much less ever pitch, Hayward was determined to once again go back to this first love - pitching baseball. The doctors had discounted the prayers of Hayward’s Christian family and the praying community. Within a few months Hayward was back to being a strike out whiz for the Caddo Independent Baseball League, even though the leg he used to keep his balance while throwing was never the same. However, he made up for that lack with determination, great arm strength, amazing accuracy, and his brother-in-law Bobby Suggs, his catcher who could almost read his mind. As a pitcher, Hayward became known as a force to be reckoned with throughout the entire region. In recognition of his outstanding athletic achievements, he was voted into the Lawrence County Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.
During his younger years playing baseball, Hayward became totally smitten with a good-looking, black haired girl named Pasty Privett from Decatur. She captured his heart and mind in much the same way baseball had captured his soul. Within months they had eloped to Iuka, Mississippi. On April 20, 1957, his love became his bride. Pasty has remained the love of his life for 64 years. Three children were born of this loving union, Bonita Shelton Montgomery (Ronnie), Priceville; Cindy Shelton, Bowling Green, KY; and Will Shelton, Jr. (Bonnie) Caddo. Only two other females ever came close to rivaling Hayward’s love for Patsy. One was his first and only granddaughter, Carly, and the other was a dog named Lady who came simply came to his house one day after a tornado and adopted Hayward. For many years Carly, Lady, and Hayward were inseparable. However, Patsy always remained number one.
Hayward will always be remembered as a kind man who loved his family, loved nature and hunting, and loved others.
Hayward is survived by his wife of 64 years, Patsy Privett Shelton; children Bonita Shelton Montgomery, Cindy Shelton, Will Shelton, Jr.; granddaughter Carly Montgomery; grandson Jason Welborn (Savannah); and 3 great grandchildren, Jackson Welborn, Amelia Welborn, and Samuel Welborn. He is also survived by his ten siblings: Marshall Shelton (Linda), Margaret Shelton Suggs (Bobby), Max Shelton (Evon), Donna Shelton Beams (Joe), Fred Shelton, Kyle Shelton, Sr. (Ginger), Judy Shelton Simms (Bill) Gwen Shelton (Angie), Rita Shelton Cheatham, and Lisa Shelton Buttram