To: The St. Lawrence Community
From: President William L. Fox
Date: August 9, 2016
In Memoriam: Coach Bob Sheldon
I was saddened to learn of the death of long-time St. Lawrence coach and former athletic director Robert "Bob" Sheldon on August 8, at his camp in Saranac Lake.
Bob, remembered fondly by many as "Shel," graduated from Colgate University before joining St. Lawrence's athletic staff as head basketball coach in 1957. He compiled an impressive record in basketball, with 110 wins and the first ICAC championship in the University's history. Bob also spent nine years as backfield coach in football and eight seasons as a junior varsity football coach, before being named athletic director in 1974.
The University's athletic program experienced tremendous growth under Bob's leadership, nearly doubling the number of teams to 24 and greatly expanding opportunities for women athletes. Throughout his term as athletic director, St. Lawrence teams earned 32 NCAA bids, won two titles and produced 28 individual champions. He retired in 1991 and was inducted into the University's Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993.
Shel's natural sense of humor was legendary and his vivid stories of St. Lawrence characters, particularly their half-time speeches, were unforgettable. I know this first-hand because he and I talked often as East Main Street neighbors, usually while he began his morning walk and I jogged off for my dawn run.
Margie Strait, who worked as a coach under Bob's leadership before being named athletic director herself, recalls that he "built the foundation for a modern athletics department. He managed the transition from having no divisions to having Division I and Division III programs really well and was very supportive of the expansion of programs for women athletes. What I think of most is that he created an atmosphere that made everyone absolutely love to be there."
Retired Sports Information Director Wally Johnson recalls Shel as "a great friend and mentor to me and to many other coaches and athletes. He was a very even-handed leader, with the best interests of all of the coaches and all of the athletes in mind at all times."
Bob remained a loyal Colgate alumnus, and with his wife, Jean, was the director of the Colgate Camp in the Adirondacks for nearly 40 years, until 1998.
I know you join Lynn and me in offering our deepest condolences to his family, including his daughter Deborah Sheldon, a food service generalist at St. Lawrence, and son Bob '77, who served as the director of Camp Canaras for 25 years.
A celebration of Bob Sheldon’s life will take place on Thursday, September 1 at 1:00 p.m. in the gymnasium of the Augsbury Physical Education Center on the St. Lawrence University campus. Those wishing to remember Bob with a gift might consider St. Lawrence University, for the purpose of athletics; Colgate University Camp; Hospice of St. Lawrence Valley; or Hospice of the North Country, Malone.
You may share your memories of Bob here.
You may read others' memories here.