Edwin Taylor "Eddy" Shell
|Bossier Parish Police Jury for District 12|
1992 – May 2, 2008
|Succeeded by||Paul McMillian "Mac" Plummer|
|Born||April 6, 1937|
Lubbock, Texas, USA
|Died||May 2, 2008 (aged 71)|
Bossier City, Louisiana
|Spouse(s)||(1) Missing (divorced)|
(2) Barbara Schneider Shell
|Children||Two children from first marriage:|
Sally S. Shell
|Occupation||Speech professor; Photographer|
|(1) Known for his enthusiasm and theatrics in teaching, Shell was a founding faculty member of Bossier Parish Community College, originally Airline Junior College, established in 1967. Springdale, Arkansas, Shell was the youngest Eagle Scout in the state.|
Edwin Taylor Shell, known as Eddy Shell (April 6, 1937 – May 2, 2008), was a prominent educator and politician in Bossier Parish in northwestern Louisiana. In 1967, he was among the original five full-time faculty members to launch Bossier Parish Community College in Bossier City. The institution was then known as Airline Junior College. Shell taught speech there for a full four decades. In 1991, he was elected as one of the first Republicans ever to serve on the Bossier Parish Police Jury (equivalent of county commission in other states).
Shell was born in Lubbock in West Texas to Freeman E. Shell, Sr. (August 20, 1906 – November 24, 1994), and the former Reba Odell Taylor (March 29, 1915 – January 29, 2003). Mrs. Shell was originally from Hamburg in Ashley County in southeastern Arkansas. The Shells moved from Lubbock to Springdale in Washington and Benton counties in far northwestern Arkansas. Eddy was the youngest Eagle Scout in the state. He graduated in 1955 from Springdale High School, where one of his classmates was Carolyn Pollan, subsequently the longest-serving Republican and the longest-serving woman in the Arkansas House of Representatives.
In 1960, Shell received his bachelor's degree and teaching credentials from Louisiana Tech University in Ruston. He was a teacher and debate coach at Bossier High School for seven years until he joined Bossier Parish Community College. He procured graduate credentials from Louisiana Tech, Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, and California Miramar University in San Diego, California, then known as "Pacific Western University".
Shell was first elected to the police jury in a runoff with his fellow Republican, Fay Rawls, 1,215 votes (52.6 percent) to 1,093 ballots (47.4 percent). The third candidate, eliminated in the nonpartisan blanket primary, was future Bossier City Mayor Lo Walker, then running as a Democrat. He was unopposed in the subsequent elections of 1995, 1999, 2003, and 2007 from his District 12 seat in south Bossier Parish. Bossier Press-Tribune editor and publisher David A. Specht, Jr., recalls how considerate Shell was of media representatives at police jury meetings. He made sure that the reporters had documentation to assist them in writing their stories. He was available for background sessions and often recommended that reporters focus on items that he considered the most important. Specht said that he was still shocked to learn of Shell's death because, even as a cancer patient, Shell had fought bravely against all adversity. On Shell's death, the police jury appointed Republican Paul McMillian "Mac" Plummer (born April 1956) of Bossier City to serve until the October 4 special election for the remainder of Shell's last term, which had begun on January 16, 2008.
Shell was "Educator of the Year" in Bossier Parish in 1970 and 1995 and "Mr. Bossier Parish" in 1970. He was a member of the Louisiana National Guard and served in the reserve components of the United States Army, Navy, and the United States Marine Corps. He was the founder of the first day-time truancy center in Louisiana; by 2008, there were twelve such facilities. Shell was also a professional photographer, often handling weddings, and served as president of the trade association, Professional Photographers of Louisiana from 1980–1981. He was a member of the Masonic lodge.
The break with Mormonism
Shell was a member of the Broadmoor Assembly of God Church, but he and his second wife, the former Barbara Schneider (born November 1948), were Mormons from 1994 to 2002. He publicly broke with Mormonism and posted a statement on the Internet to that effect. Shell said that he conducted a study of the religion and determined the Book of Mormon to be fiction. He particular rejected the Mormon concept of eternal progression: “As man now is, God once was: As God now is, man may be.” Shell encapsulated his testimony, accordingly, in second person:
"You must know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. You must allow Him to enter into your heart. He must be a part of your life at work, home, and play. You can have a personal relationship with the living God through Jesus Christ, and the assurance of eternal life, through prayer to the real God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You will have daily the grace of love beyond expectations.
Death and legacy
Shell died after a nearly two-year struggle with spiral sarcoma, a cancer which he once described as "four tumors wrapped around each other, encapsulated." Despite the difficulties of surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy, Shell continued teaching, having missed no more than a week of instruction, and he still served on the police jury. He used his personal struggle with cancer as a lesson to his students and others to whom he came in contact. "I was trying to show my knuckle-headed students that cancer doesn't mean death," he said in 2007. In the classroom, Shell was known for his enthusiasm and theatrics, sometimes getting atop his desk to make a particular point. Shortly after the funeral, Shell was honored in the commencement ceremonies at BPCC.
In addition to wife Barbara, originally from Landau in Germany, Shell was survived by a daughter, Sally S. Shell (born c. 1963), a teacher in Broonfield, Colorado; son Ted Shell (born c. 1966), a nurse in Tacoma, Washington, and granddaughter Callie Shell of College Station, Texas; his siblings, Mally S. Hatch and Freeman E. Shell, Jr., both of Decatur, Alabama, and Sally Elizabeth Shell Whitehead of Jacksonville, Arkansas; three step-children, and four step-grandchildren.
Kelly McDade, a BPCC instructor, said that the institution has its "work cut out for us to meet Dr. Shell's challenge of embodying the best there is in humanity. I learned from Dr. Shell that every day is an opportunity to embrace life with gusto and that to share knowledge and understanding with everyone I meet is an honor."
Then BPCC Chancellor Tom Carleton, who delivered the eulogy at Shell's funeral, recalls that when Freeman Shell taught his son how to drive a car, he taught using the reverse gear first. "That's how [Eddy Shell] approached all of life's problems, taking the hardest first."
Shell is interred with military honors at Hill Crest Memorial Park east of Bossier City.
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- "Ark La Tex Student News". Archived from the original on 2008-05-09. Retrieved 2008-05-12.
- "RootsWeb Search". Retrieved 2008-05-17.
- >"Bossier Police Juror dies from cancer", Northwest Louisiana News, May 5, 2008
- "Obituaries and Guest Books for 5/17/2008". Shreveport [Louisiana] Times. 2008-05-17. Retrieved 2008-05-17.
- "Official Bossier Parish Election Results". State of Louisiana. November 16, 1991. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
- David A. Specht, Jr., "Goodbye Dr. Shell", Bossier Press-Tribune, May 7, 2008
- Lund, Gerald N. (February 1982), "I Have a Question: Is President Lorenzo Snow's oft-repeated statement — "As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may be" — accepted as official doctrine by the Church?", Ensign
- "Edwin T. Shell Testimony". mazeministry.com. November 26, 2003. Retrieved April 13, 2015.
- Janelle Rucker, "Police Juror, teacher still smiling after cancer fight", The Shreveport Times, April 13, 2007
- "Bossier police juror remembered for smiles, stories", The Shreveport Times, May 6, 2008
- Edwin T. Shell Guest Book (no longer on-line)
- "Eddy Shell given his final salutes", The Shreveport Times, May 8, 2008
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