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District names Heritage gym for Tulalip Tribal member
A love of sports grabbed Francis Sheldon from an early age and never let go.
At the age of 10, recalled his wife Anita, Francis formed a Little League team. With the help of his parents, who drove the team to Everett for games in their logging truck, Sheldon coached and competed in baseball.
But far from having a favorite sport, Sheldon played football, basketball and baseball for Marysville High School and set a football record for the longest run, 101 yards.
“I don’t think that’s been broken yet,” Anita figured.
Childhood involvement in athletics was just the start of Francy’s lifelong involvement in sports in the Marysville and Snohomish County area. To that end, the Marysville School District will dedicate the gymnasium on the secondary campus — which serves Arts & Technology High School, 10th Street Middle School and Heritage High School — in the name of Francis J. Sheldon.
Shortly after finishing high school, Sheldon served in the Army and was stationed in Korea and Japan. But after his service ended, he returned to the area and resumed his participation in the area’s athletic organizations.
“After he got out of the service, he went into the Snohomish County (basketball) leagues and played. They were undefeated the first year they were out,” Anita said.
He also started working for the Tulalip Tribes, a career that would span some 35 years. Sheldon started out as a water man, according to his wife. Through the years he would work for the fisheries, as tribal police chief and on the elder board. She recalled that Sheldon’s office was staffed by only two or three people when he started there and now employs about 100. Sheldon also had a gift for gab, often being called upon to roast employees when they retired from working for the tribes.
Sheldon loved sports for the ways it benefited its participants. He loved golf as a way to stay in shape, walking along side the cart while his wife and fellow golfers rode in carts. He also encouraged his five daughters and his grandchildren to get involved, coaching and cheering on their teams as well.
The family’s love of athletics has continued since Sheldon passed away in 2002.
“Right now one of my granddaughters is coaching her son’s team,” Anita said, adding, “The older boys help with their sisters’ kids, teaching them sports. They’re keeping it going. They’re signing them up for soccer, basketball, football and flag football.”
The dedication is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 10.