Condolence & Memory Journal

Raymond Earl Shell

I knew him as dad. My goofy dad who would pass gas in the car while driving all us girls around. My thoughtful dad who would wake me up in the middle of the night just to talk. My dad whose socks were so smelly they had to be put into a paper bag and buried deep into the clothes hamper. My caring dad who would be there while getting through a heartache. My stubborn dad because he said so.

As a kid, hearing that he was drafted into Vietnam and returned home to being shamed, made me sad for him. He had decided to live the hippie life and ignore the ridicule. He grew his hair long, at least the back of it, wore bell bottoms and smoked a little peace pipe while listening to rock music on vinyl. It worked, he blended in. Later in his life, thanks to social media, he would shift his perspective and take pride in his service. He connected with many other soldiers online which helped him remember what it was like to be known as Super Shell overseas. Then, he never left the house without wearing something commemorating his service and appreciated those who recognized and honored him.

My dad was financially responsible for taking care of his family. Over the years he worked several jobs, Sherwin-Williams, Fernald, Monsanto and retired as the handy-man at Judson Care Center. Many co-workers look to him as an extended family member. He had integrity, was hard-working and was fun to be around. He would banter with anyone willing.

I would watch him walk into a room and the people would light up with the sight of him. He was welcoming and his presence demanded respect. He was tough and believed in fairness and had many opinions.

He was always into some project. Woodworking, wine making, photography and developing his own photographs, acrylic painting, he even built a huge model of the Titanic for my mom. He has traded so many cars throughout his life. He loved to draw and write and made many funny and clever poems over the years.

He taught me the value of hard work by having us work for vacation spending money. He would drive us girls around to local parks to collect cans. He would stop by a trash can and tell us to get out. “But dad there are people picnicking here,” we would protest. He would yell from the car, “Better hurry up then!”

He taught me organization by how he packed all of our camping gear into the car tightly and strategically, a trait he learned in the Army. We often would visit the Great Smoky Mountains. My mom, my two sisters and I would sleep in one tent and my dad would sleep in a single person tent across the campsite to try and separate us from his train-like snore. It didn’t work but it probably kept the bears away.

My dad loved to play the guitar and harmonica and sometimes did both at the same time. He would often play and sing Beatles songs. I was in awe of his ability to make all that noise and with such emotion. He was humble about his playing but was actually quite talented. He even made up a few songs; only one loving, for my mom. The rest were songs to get people laughing. He was clever and had a great sense of humor.

His father also played guitar, as well as the banjo and piano and sang in a barber shop quartet. Maybe this is where he got his musical influence.

He was the youngest child of his parents. His brothers and sister were much older than him. His mother always protected him. I hear he was a bit of a rascal and curious about things in life as a kid. He would share stories of his mother always getting after him for something he was into. For instance, he used to follow his father everywhere like his shadow. One time, he was at a church and his father knelt down to lead a prayer. My dad decided to get a cup of water and place it on his father’s bald head. His father finished praying, then simply removed the cup and never said anything to him about it. My dad always said he was a saint and never yelled about anything. I’m sure his mother did!

He loved to tease his older sister, Norma. She had such a great laugh. He used to hide behind the sink curtain and listen to her and her friends when she was a teenager. He would have been a fun little brother.

In more recent years, my dad loved laying on the couch making peanut butter crackers and watching Andy Griffith. I think part of him lived in Mayberry. He liked the small town closeness and the innocence of the characters. Much of his family is from Kentucky and I feel this graciously connected him to those roots.

My dad loved kids because he was just a big kid at heart. He loved showing magic tricks, telling jokes, and playing tasting games. This is where we would close our eyes and taste something. These were things like caster oil, sardines or mustard. He also tried to convince Tina she could move something with her mind. He had her focus on an ashtray on the table then it moved, thanks to the string tied to his foot. “I saw your foot move, Dad!” Tina protested.

We believed anything our dad said to us. He actually told us we were aliens from a far away planet. He said we were the last of our kind and that Eagle Man wanted to come take us back to our planet. Eagle Man would take over my dad’s body out of the blue. We would watch him struggle with all his might to fight him away. He would growl and warn “Run girls!” We would scream running to the smallest room in the house, the only room with a lock. “Roar” he would growl as he banged on the door. As we squealed, he would turn back into dad, “It’s ok girls, it’s dad” then chuckle. He really needed little boys.

My dad has always been an animal lover and has had a variety of pets over the years. Every pet was to my mother’s objection, dogs, cats, several cockatiel birds all named Stanley, a ferret and a boa constrictor snake. One day he brought us a rabbit. Us girls played with it all day. Later at dinner, he asked us if we liked our food and we said, “ yes”. Then he told us it was the rabbit we had been playing with. We were so very upset that I think he felt bad then told us it was chicken. Apparently, it was rabbit meat but not the one we were playing with.

His newest pet, Millie the cat, came into his life several years ago and has been a constant companion following him everywhere like he used to do with his dad. She was an emotional support friend and someone that he said “Never talked back.”

As you can see, my dad, Ray Shell, lived a full life. He was tenacious and ornery. He was loving. He was stubborn. His hearty laugh is something he loved to share. I’m sorry for your loss of this being in your life and please continue to smile when you think of him.

Posted by Renee Shell - Daughter   November 12, 2021

I am so sorry for the loss of Ray. I will always remember his laugh and the way he always had a great story to tell. Love and hugs to all. You are in my thoughts as you go through this loss.

Posted by Beverly Throckmorton - NC - Family   November 12, 2021


Posted by Cheryl Schall - mason, OH - family   November 10, 2021