Dr. Huntington “Skip” Sheldon of Shelburne died unexpectedly after a brief illness at his home on Friday, Dec. 29. He was born in New York City on Jan. 14, 1930. Skip and his family moved to Amagansett, N.Y. when he was 6 years old; the property there has remained a keystone throughout his life and formed the foundation for his lifelong passion for agriculture and conservation.
He was educated at Brooks School in Andover, Mass., and completed his undergraduate studies as a Markle Scholar at McGill University. He earned his medical degree at Johns Hopkins University and did his residency there in pathology. He was a pioneer in the study of electron microscopy at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. He returned to McGill in 1959 and remained there as a legendary lecturer, Strathcona Professor, and researcher for the next 25 years. The Sheldon Biotechnology Center at McGill is named in his honor.
Dr. Sheldon’s academic awards include Distinguished Brooksian, JHU Society of Scholars, JHU Distinguished Alumnus, JHU Distinguished Medical Alumnus, and an honorary LLD from McGill. He served on the JHU Board of Trustees from 1995 until his death. He was also a founder of the Institute of Basic Biomedical Sciences at Hopkins. He was a 60-year member of the University Club of New York.
While living in Montreal, Dr. Sheldon devoted much of his recreational time to cross-country skiing in the Laurentians. He was president of the Viking Ski Club and chairman of the Canadian Ski Association. He participated as coach in the winter Olympics in Innsbruck and Lake Placid in ’76 and ’80. He competed in three iconic cross-country races: the Vasaloppet, the Finlandia and the Birkebeiner.
Dr. Sheldon was a consummate renaissance man who applied his considerable intellect and force of character to achieve success in many fields. Having taken early retirement from McGill in 1985, he moved to Shelburne where he spent the next 25 years raising purebred Suffolk sheep. He was one of the area’s first certified organic farmers, and was key in forming the Charlotte Land Trust in the early 1990s.
Another of Dr. Sheldon’s lifelong passions was sailing. He first learned to sail at the Devon Yacht Club on Gardiner’s Bay on Long Island as a young boy, and continued to sail while he lived in Montreal. After his move to Vermont, he was able to focus more of his energies on sailing, and competed in and won many of the world’s classic ocean races: Transatlantic, Fastnet, Newport-Bermuda, Middle Sea and the Sydney-Hobart. He also spent several summers cruising in the high latitudes of Scandinavia with his family, including a sail above the Arctic Circle to Spitsbergen in ’96. He was a member of the New York Yacht Club, the Royal Ocean Racing Club, and was an honorary Commodore of the Royal Swedish Yacht Club.
Skip was a remarkable man who lived his life to the fullest. He will be deeply missed by his wife of 32 years, Del, and his daughters Greta and her husband David Rose of California; and Zoë, her husband Matthew Kling, and their son Wylie, also of California. He also leaves daughters Karan Sheldon and Jennifer Sheldon and their children: Catherine and Martin Weiss, Oren, Kira and Geneva Gersten and Connor and Nikolas Crabtree.
Skip will also be greatly missed by his community of friends and colleagues worldwide.
There will be a private family burial in the spring. In place of flowers, kindly send contributions to the Charlotte (Vermont) Land Trust. Ready Funeral Home 261 Shelburne Rd., Burlington, has been entrusted with the arrangements. Please visit readyfuneral.com to place online condolences.