Click here for part one of a two-part radio interview with Debra and Carrie Abbott, president of The Legacy Institute about David, his ministry and our 9 year battle with Alzheimer's. Scroll down on the page and find "Honoring David Shelton" part I (Sept 17th) and Part II (Sept 18).
Obituary DVD Tribute Photos from memorials
A synopsis & background
In 2001, David was performing at a church in a small town in South Dakota. Prior to the Friday evening dinner theatre, David's host took him snowmobiling. His host was way out in front of him and when Loren signaled to turn left, David turned left, but immediately faced a barbed wire fence. He had to hit the stop button on the snowmobile and although the machine stopped, he didn't, going through the windshield, cutting his arm and more importantly landing on his helmet (which broke) on the March ice. After driving three hours to Grand Forks, and being told they couldn't do anything for his crushed wrist, the pastor drove David back to the original town and he flew home the next day. A three-hour surgery a few days later put his wrist back together but we weren't aware at that time the uphill battle we would be facing.
For about 18 months, David continued his performances as usual, but in October of 2003, we started noticing David having difficulty with some of his performances and, at times, driving directions. He adjusted his performance schedule to no longer include straight scripture since that has to be perfect but contined with his biblical characterizations, storytelling and singing. By 2004 we began to notice David having difficulty not only with performances but with some day to day lifestyle issues. It was then we contacted a neurologist and he had some cognitive testing. We agreed to follow him and observe while at the same time accepting the two prescription medications known at that time (and still used) to help stall the symptoms of Alzheimer's.
David continued living his life by faith, trusting God moment by moment as things became harder and gave his final public performance in December of 2006, singing at the close of our Christmas Dessert Theatre that featured our Youth Performance Teams we'd been directing weekly. Debra took over the direction of our youth performance teams and with the help of daughter Jessica, continued our North and South teams through May of 2008.
The next year, 2007, was a transitional and difficult year when we came to accept that, baring a miracle healing of the Lord, David was indeed suffering from Alzheimer's and would continue to decline. In 2008 we tried various therapies, including a stroke recovery program and other naturopathic remedies such as oxygen therapy, none of which stopped or reversed David's symptoms.
Between late 2008 and early 2010, David seemed to rebound a little or at a minimum, maintain until December of 2010 when he suffered the first of what would be several serious seizures. We now realize that this was the beginning of the end of David's time on earth as his brain continued to atrophy (the cause of his seizures due to the imbalance) and by February of 2012, his neurologist told me it was time for Hospice. I originally thought he was being premature but then learned that a physician can order Hospice only if he thinks his patient has less than 6 months to a year to live. In our case, David's time with us was short and he passed into the arms of Jesus on March 17th 2012, one day after turning 59.
His earthly tent had worn out, but David's legacy of the wonderful faith-gifted man of God he was will go on forever. He is greatly missed.