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Obituary: Virginia Maria, Shelton

Age 102

Virginia Maria Shelton (M. Gabriel Dolores), SNJM June 5, 1911- September 2, 2013 Virginia Maria was born in Lewiston, Idaho, the first-born child of Frederick and Margaret Fewer Shelton. She was later joined by her brothers Fred and Leroy. Her family moved to Spokane when she was two years old, so she attended Parkwater Elementary School and Lourdes Academy, graduating from West Valley High School in 1929. After graduation, Virginia worked in a restaurant near the air field before beginning college at Washington State College in Pullman. She joined the Sisters of the Holy Names in 1933, and earned her B.M. as music educator from Marylhurst College. Virginia, now known as Sister M. Gabriel Dolores, taught music in parish schools throughout the Northwest from 1935 to 1957. Ready for a new challenge, she changed to classroom teaching from 1957 to 1981. In her seventies, when most people have retirement in mind, she opened herself to a new career in parish ministry in Snohomish, interrupted that ministry to be of service to her Sisters as Director of the Convent in Spokane, returned to parish ministry (in her eighties!) in Wapato, Washington. Because she has been such a wonderful community woman who could well articulate her spirituality and teach the art of prayer, at age ninety, Virginia was invited to join the team preparing new members for life in the community. Ten years ago, Virginia was thinking of retiring, and moved to the Convent, but she found several volunteer opportunities in archives, at Our Place, with Trinity School, and throughout the house. She has made thousands of rosaries, hundreds of crocheted gifts and favors. She very much enjoyed communicating by E-mail. She was a prayerful woman with a heart full of gratitude for the people and events in her life. Among her words when asked for advice for the younger Sisters were: have a cheerful attitude toward life, take care of your health, make friends, laugh at yourself, live your vocation to the fullest, get to know yourself from deep within, reach out to others! Sister Virginia’s brothers have died but she is survived by her nieces and nephews, and by her religious Sisters of the Holy Names. Mass of the Resurrection will be celebrated for Sister Virginia Maria on Friday, September 6, at 1:00 pm, at Convent of the Holy Names, W. 2911 Fort George Wright Drive, Spokane, WA, 99224. Memorial gifts may be made to The Retirement Fund for the Sisters of the Holy Names at the above address. To view Sister Virginia’s online memorial, please visit Arrangements entrusted to