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Tulalip Heritage gymnasium dedicated to Francy Sheldon
TULALIP — When the Marysville School District chose to dedicate the new gymnasium on the Tulalip Heritage campus, it was no accident that they chose to schedule the ceremony for a league basketball game between Lummi and Tulalip Heritage.
“It was important that this dedication happened against Lummi,” said school board member Don Hatch.
Francis Sheldon, to whom the facility was dedicated between the boys and girls basketball games Jan. 10, was a long-time advocate of athletics on the Tulalip Indian reservation where he grew up and became active in sports from an early age. Lummi, located north of Bellingham Bay, is a league rival of Heritage sports and the league’s only other tribal school.
“He was an all-around sportsman, coaching at age 10,” said his daughter Marilyn at the dedication ceremony. “He holds the school record for the longest run, 101 yards.”
Sheldon, who passed away in 2002, attended St. Martin’s College before joining the Army in 1956 where he served in Japan and Korea. His wife Anita was present at the dedication, joining her daughter Marilyn in front of the crowd. She stood near a plaque with Sheldon’s image. Anita and Francy had five daughters together.
“As a father he had the most fun. He loved to tease us and see what we’d do. He was a family man,” Marilyn said, as a slideshow of images of Sheldon were projected onto a screen behind her. “All of his grandchildren gave him another chance to coach.”
Sheldon’s heritage was an important part of his life as well. After completing his military service, Sheldon returned to the Tulalip reservation where he served in countless posts on the reservation. Several hats he wore included police chief and fisheries manager. He was also active in family services and kids’ programs.
“As a leader,” his daughter added, “dad was dedicated to fishing rights, sports and keeping kids in school.”