MISSOULA ~ Gary Sheldon, 83, was blessed with his freedom and promoted to his eternal home on Independence Day! His earthly journey began in Culbertson, MT when he was the surprise second son born to John Christensen and Esther Waldhausen Christensen after the arrival of Larry who cost $20 and Gary was an extra $5. As Gary often joked, “You get what you pay for!” Their father owned the dray business and cut ice from the Missouri River to keep the ice house supplied. He died at age 32 from a brain tumor when the boys were 6. Two years later Esther married a teacher Walter Sheldon and he adopted her sons. In 1948 brother Warren Sheldon was born to complete their family.
Gary enjoyed playing football and basketball in high school and was part of the team who played in the state basketball tournament in 1957 and brought back a trophy for their school. Both boys attended UM and were one of four sets of twins named Larry & Gary who moved into Craig Hall. The picture of them made the newspapers and “Ripley’s Believe It or Not”. After two years he joined the Army Reserves and was a tank mechanic at Camp Irwin, CA for 6 months. He enjoyed working at Yellowstone NP for three summers as a mechanic and tow truck driver. The most fun he had was building a hot rod and racing at the Bozeman Dragway at the airport on Sundays. He returned to Missoula and completed his B.A. in Education degree to teach industrial arts in 1963. His first job was in Salt Lake City and then he settled in Denver where he taught at Mapleton High School for three years and enjoyed coaching the JV basketball team. He worked at Roger Marrow’s for a year, then began teaching at the North Campus of the Denver Community College. He completed his M. A. in Vocational Administration from CO State in Ft. Collins in 1973. The college was later relocated to Westminster, CO and named Front Range Community College where he successfully completed 25 years and retired in 1996. He enjoyed working with students and knowing that what he taught enabled them to go out and make a living for themselves.
Gary met Sara Lauer at the Captain Cook apartments in Denver in 1970 where she had moved to begin teaching junior high math for the Denver Public Schools. They were married 2 years later in Mt. Pleasant, MI which began their 50-year journey together. Their greatest joy was being blessed by Allan Walter born March 1977, Laura Kathryn October 1978, and Bethany Susanne June 1983. It was busy but very fulfilling years in CO growing as a family with neighbors and friends and summer travels. In 1997 they moved to Missoula and Allan graduated from MT State and both girls from UM. Gary enjoyed everything mechanical and helped out anyone who needed it. They joined a car club where he was able to showcase his ‘47 Jeep, ‘55 Chevrolet, and ‘64 Buick Riveria. The addition of two sons and daughter plus the addition of 7 grandchildren have been the greatest blessings during retirement.
Gary was preceded in death by his brother Warren and cousins Carol Strickhauser and Lynn Waldhausen. He is survived by his wife Sara, son Allan & Jennifer, Addison, Riley of Missoula, daughter Laura & Jordan Knutson, Braden, Keegan of Missoula, daughter Bethany & Cameron Hoffman, Wyatt, Weston, Miley of Highlands Ranch, CO, brother Larry of Helena, cousins Bruce & Leo Waldhausen of Culbertson and Karen Lagge of Billings.
Gary’s celebration of life will be held at Sunset Memorial Gardens, Friday, July 15, 2022 at 2:30 p.m