It is with great sorrow that the family of Donald "Don" Elton Shetler announces his passing. He died on June 12, 2011, at the residence of his son Carl Shetler, where he was surrounded by family.
Don Shetler was born in Syracuse, New York on July 18, 1925. At the age of nine, his family moved to Lake Charles, Louisiana. While attending Landry Catholic High School, where he excelled in academics and athletics, this all-state quarterback led the Tigers to a state championship. Don attended McNeese State University before entering the United States Marine Corps. After serving three years in the Pacific, he returned to Lake Charles to work for Schlumberger. He married Patricia Ruth Daughenbaugh on August 12, 1946. They had five children.
Don was involved in the automobile industry at every level for over 42 years. He was employed at Cagle Chevrolet and Ed Taussig Ford before acquiring his own dealership in Mobile, Alabama. He was actively involved in the management and ownership of automobile dealerships in Crowley, Lake Charles, and Sulphur. Products included Chrysler, Plymouth, Dodge, Lincoln, Mercury, Oldsmobile, Jeep, Buick, Nissan, Ford, Volkswagen, and Chevrolet.
Mr. Shetler was a member of St. Michael's Catholic Church in Crowley. He established the annual St. Michael's Church Picnic, where he provided over 4,000 dinners at no cost. Don chaired numerous committees, received the Distinguished Bishop's Medal, was chosen for the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher, served on the board of directors of the Catholic Foundation of the Diocese of Lafayette, and was a fourth degree Knights of Columbus member.
Mr. Shetler believed the success of the local area depends upon the youth. Various schools and athletic programs benefited from his generosity and support throughout the years. Don was a member of the Crowley Chamber of Commerce for 24 years. He helped foster the economic expansion of Acadia Parish by promoting the development of the Acadia Parish Industrial Park. While serving as the chairman of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, he helped bring grants and improvements to Crowley. His committee initiated and wrote the current Louisiana Seatbelt Safety Law.
Other achievements include director of the Louisiana Motor Vehicle Commission for 27 years, director of the Louisiana Automobile Dealer Association (LADA) for 23 years, representative and chairman of the National Dealer Council for Lincoln Mercury, representative and chairman of the National Dealer Council for Ford Motor Company, chairman on the legislative committee of LADA, chairman on the legislative committee of the Louisiana Motor Vehicle Commission, director of Louisiana Dealer Services, director of Ford Dealers Advertising Fund, recipient of the Lincoln Presidential Award, 2001 LADA Time Magazine Dealer of the Year, and 21 other distinguished service awards.
In lieu of all Mr. Shetler's accomplishments, he may be remembered most for his Christmas spirit. The lights and decorations exhibited at the Shetler home have delighted children and parents alike for years. Cars lined the streets waiting for their visit with Santa. During the month of December, he provided bus tours for children followed by a "Supper in the Tent" of hot dogs, nachos, drinks, and popcorn. This free experience brought more than 100,000 people to Crowley.
Don Shetler is survived by his five children, Carl Shetler (Rosie) of Lake Charles, Donna Shetler Corley (George) of Crowley, Gwen Shetler Butaud, Rick Shetler, and Mike Shetler (Kathleen), all of Lake Charles. He is survived by grandchildren Chris Corley, Donald Corley, Tammy Truax, Rebecca Armistead, Sherri Shetler, Jenny Strahan, Michael Shetler, Shellie Eskew, Amy Bebee, Ricky Shetler, Donnie Shetler, and fifteen great-grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his parents, Carl and Martha Shetler, his brother Carl James Shetler, and his wife Patricia Daughenbaugh Shetler.
Visitation will be on Monday from 5:00-9:00 P.M. at Johnson Funeral Home in Lake Charles, Louisiana. A Rosary will be at 7:00 P.M, Monday and visitation will continue on Tuesday from 9:00-10:30 A.M. at the funeral home, followed by the Funeral Mass at 11:00 A.M. at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Church. Monsignor Charles Mallet will officiate. Burial will be at Highland Memory Gardens under the direction of Johnson Funeral Home.
Pallbearers include Chris Corley, Donald Corley, Michael Shetler, Ricky Shetler, Donnie Shetler, Blake Corley, Grant Corley, Christopher Corley, Mark Daughenbaugh, and David Daughenbaugh.
The family asks that donations be made to the St. Michael Catholic School, 805 East Northern Avenue, Crowley, LA 70526 or St. Louis Catholic High School Foundation, 1620 Bank Street, Lake Charles, LA 70601.
The family would like to thank the nurses and caregivers who cared so much for Mr. Shetler and helped our family through the last several years. To family and friends, your love and support will always be remembered.