In Loving Memory

Lee M. Shelton, II

September 29, 1944 - June 25, 2021

Funeral Service LiveStream


Lee M. Shelton was born in Amarillo, TX and was born the first son of Lee and Yolande Shelton.

He is survived by his wife, Patricia; four children, Shannon Meinert and her husband, Randy; Scott Schlotzhauer and his partner Ben Ocampo; Lisa Williams and her husband, Kevin; and Shawn Shelton and his wife, Lisa; five grandchildren, Kelsey White and her husband, Dakota, Joel Meinert, Kirsten Williams, Brooke Williams, and Grant Williams.  He is also survived by his brother, Will Shelton and his wife, Cindi.

He was an undergraduate of the University of Oklahoma, and earned his Master’s Degree from New York State University.  Designated an Outstanding Military Graduate (AFROTC), Lee received a Regular Commission in 1966.  Lee earned his wings in 1967 and spent the balance of 1967 and 1968 flying the C-7A Caribou, supporting Special Forces units in Vietnam’s I Corps. 

From 1969 thru 1974, he flew the T-38 as an instructor in Undergraduate Pilot and Pilot Instructor Training.  Between 1974 and 1977, he sat nuclear alert in the FB-111.

In 1977, he applied and was accepted into the SR-71 program and flew the aircraft for over 700-hours in next 6-years as an aircraft commander, instructor pilot and flight examiner.  Lee remained with the Blackbird program in numerous staff and command positions…completing 16 of his 27-year Air Force career in key SR-71 billets.  In August 1987, Lee hit his personal jackpot and was selected to command the SR-71 forward operating location “Detachment 1” at Kadena AB, Okinawa, Japan. He was the last Det 1 Commander in Okinawa, Japan and executed the final sortie when Congress terminated the Blackbird program in 1990.

He is a command pilot over 4000 flying hours in six different aircraft.  Well over 1000 of those hours are recorded as combat time.

Following his USAF retirement in 1993, Lee continued to specialize in the operations arena, working as a senior executive for two major corporations with assignments in the United States and overseas. Additionally, he taught Project Management for the University of Nebraska Business Development Center.  He retired from the corporate marketplace in 2010 and relocated to Fairhope, Alabama.

Lee’s retirement was characterized by service and energy. He was an active small business mentor and repeat chairman of the local SCORE Chapter and a hands-on supporter of the Fairhope Library’s Current Events Roundtable. He was a life-member of the Order of Daedalians and an active member of The Ancient Aviators of South Alabama. He was especially proud of the very brief opportunity to serve on the Fairhope Airport Authority Board.

Soon after moving to Fairhope in 2010, Lee and Pat were fortunate enough to develop a wonderful group of friends. He got to know their neighbors by participating in the homeowners’ association and served in several positions including president. He also discovered a diverse circle of friends at Bouch’s Cigar Shop.  They frequently sat together, shared the sanctity of cigar smoke, and talked about current events.

In lieu of flowers, Lee requested donations be made in his memory to either Hillsdale College or the National Pancreatic Cancer Foundation


A celebration of life service will be held on Friday, July 9, 2021 at Hughes Funeral Home, 26209 Pollard Road, Daphne, AL, at 4:00 PM.

Expressions of condolence for the family may be made at Hughes Funeral Home, 26209 Pollard Road, Daphne, AL, is assisting the family.


  1. Clark Bonnell

    I have only known Lee for about 2 years. I grew to admire him and I learned quite a lot from him as well. He will be sorely missed.


    This remarkable man is missed by many. I am a better person by having known him. His gentle nature, quick wit, love of his friends and family, quiet intellect, zest for life have contributed to so many. He is to be celebrated and remembered for the many memories we can cherish. Love and prayers go to Pat and the family for their loss and will also be given as they face the future.

  3. Melissa Rivers

    I will always remember Lee waving while walking/working in the yard saying “Hello Melissa”….
    He would just “show up” outside when I was working outside…I know in my heart it was so he could help me when I hurt myself…it was always when…lol…
    Our running joke.

  4. Fred Salmen

    Even though Lee was only at Bellevue (Nebraska) High School his Senior year, he quickly found a group of friends and hosted some good summer vacation parties; nobody held it against him for going to University of Oklahoma.
    We classmates have positive remembrances and looked forward to seeing him and Pat (also a BHS graduate) at our reunions. His big smile will be missed.

  5. Jeff and Jan Stewart

    We were so sorry to hear this sad news. Our thoughts snd prayers are with you, Pat, and your family. We so enjoyed reliving old memories with you and Lee at class reunions. Jeff tried to call to give you our condolences but we don’t have a current phone number. Please know we are thinking of you. Know Lee will live on in your hearts forever.

  6. Sid Vogel

    Lee was a professional at everything he did. I served with Lee on the Board of SCORE and he approached everything with passion, commitment, organization, and dedication. No task was too small, and no client was more important than any other client. Lee was a giant in a group of giants and he was respected and admired by our entire organization. Lee also briefed several other organizations I was involved in on the Air Force and the SR – 71 program. He was a great man, he is gone too soon. We all miss him.

  7. Joe Kinego

    I first met Lee in 1977 when he arrived at Beale AFB as a new SR-71 pilot. I gave Lee SR-71 instruction in both the simulator and the aircraft. He was undoubtedly one of the finest pilots I had the honor to fly with. Once he completed his training and was operationally ready in the aircraft, he and Barry, his SR-71 reconnaissance systems officer, deployed often to Kadena AB in Okinawa, Japan and also to RAF Mildenhall, in the UK. It was always a pleasure to be deployed with Lee on these TDY’s. He was a great pilot, a real professional, a good friend and always fun to be around.

  8. Bill Burk

    Lee was my instructor in the SR-71. He’s the reason I successfully completed training; smart, articulate, laser wit, and just fun to be around.! Always a smile, caring and compassionate, Lee led by example. RIP my frend and mentor❤️

  9. John Manzi

    Lee-San, you were one of those people who made being a Habu fun and memorable! It was a pleasure to serve under you during our rotations to Det 1. Your professionalism as an Air Force officer and skills as a military pilot made you a great role model and mentor for us coming up through the ranks. We will miss you but know your are in God’s care, now. Rest In Peace!

  10. Frank W Stampf

    You could always tell when Lee was excited about something — his entire face lit up, and his words just flowed effortlessly to paint a vivid picture of whatever it was he wanted to share with you. His smile was explosive and contagious — you could not help but get drawn into his enthusiasm. He will always be remembered for his wit and warm personality. A true patriot, dear friend, and Habu brother. We miss you, Lee-san…

  11. Charles Schumacher

    Jan and I are saddened by the passing of Lee Shelton, a great friend and the last commander of the SR71 detachment one (DET1) at Kadena Air Force Base Okinawa. I first met Lee when he was an SR71 pilot deployed to Mildenhall Air Force Base (DET4). I was the civilian ELINT analyst, on TDY to DET4. We became good friends, sharing pizza and beer on several evenings. We became re acquainted at DET1 during the last several years of the SR71 program. Lee and his wife Pat became very good friends with Jan and I. Several years after the closing of the SR71 program I was able to contact Lee at Offutt Air Force Base to get Jack Veth’s phone number. I will be forever grateful of knowing Lee and Pat.
    RIP LEE SHELTON, may the grace of GOD be with you.

  12. Gene Omoto

    A leader, counsel, patriot, and friend to all,…
    My thoughts and prayers for his family.
    I am forever grateful for his guidance, counsel, and support.
    For without his belief in my abilities, I would not have been able to achieve my career/life goals,…
    I will miss him,…

  13. Michael J Relja

    Lee was always a true gentleman and a great Habu, he will be missed by all, especially his SR-71 Blackbird band of brothers.

  14. Roy Mudrick

    I served under Lee as he revived our neighborhood association. I learned a great deal about leadership simply by watching his example of how it’s rightly done – with strength, humility, and a servants heart.

    There was a wholeness about Lee, living his life and performing his duties in accordance with his beliefs and principles; we call that integrity.

    I am sad at my loss, our loss.

    I am at peace knowing that my friend, neighbor, and leader is now at home with his Lord, waiting for all of us who will to join him there.

  15. Bill Keller

    Lee’s exuberance for life always affected me whether we were airborne, in the sim or on the asphalt logging miles. He was a real contributor to my Lake Tahoe completion. He always wanted to run & then “perch” on the roof top of 318 while consuming a “greenie”. While representing the 9SRW @ the Toronto Airshow we were known as “the Horseshoe Brothers” @ the daily pre-briefs which didn’t affect either of us. I’ll miss his huge smile.

  16. BC Thomas

    Lee Shelton was a dynamic and thoughtful leader. He certainly was knowledgable, professional, fun to be around, and I always enjoyed hearing him speak to a crowd because of his smart delivery, flawless presentation and very funny wit. He will be very. sorely missed by all who knew him!

    God Bless Lee and his wonderful family!

  17. Alan and Liz Cirino

    This is sad news indeed.
    Lee was a fine pilot and a distinct pleasure
    to have in the SR-71 Squadron.
    Never at a loss for words, he had an antidote
    for every thing. He had a great sense of humor
    and – as Bill Burke so aptly says – “a rapier wit”.
    We will miss his “hail fellow, well met” attitude.
    Our deep and heartfelt sympathies to Pat and the

  18. Mac Hornbaker

    I was very fortunate to meet Lee shortly after I started SR-71 aircrew training in 1980 and we continued to cross paths throughout the remainder of our Air Force careers. During these years, I witnessed and benefited from Lee’s leadership, professionalism, wit, and charm but never more so than when he was the Detachment (DET) 1 Commander, Kadena Air Base Okinawa, 1988-1990.

    From my Headquarters Strategic Air Command position at Offutt AFB Nebraska, Lee and I interacted several times a week. Lee continued to make on-time take-offs and completed the tasked missions in spite of troubling times as the SR-71 Program was slated for termination. After the last SR-71 departed DET 1 in early 1990, Lee became my boss at Offutt AFB for our last two years in the Air Force.

    Lee was an incredible leader and I am so blessed to have served with him and under his leadership. A few months after Lee retired, he retired me. Godspeed Lee!

  19. Ed Clements

    Colonel Shelton truly exemplified what it is to be a true leader. He was my Commander while I was stationed at Det 1, Kaden. He was far and away the best Commander of my entire 20 year career in the Air Force. My son is now a Commander in the Air Force, and I see some of the same traits in him as I saw in Colonel Shelton. I could not be more proud of him. Thank you Sir for your exemplary leadership.

  20. Wayne Glover

    Awesome person & commander 😢🙏! Best commander I ever served under! A GREAT PERSON TO SERVE UNDER😍❤️🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏

  21. CMSGT Wayne Glover

    An AWESOME person, commander & friend! Gone way to quick! Best COMMANDER I ever serve under! May HE REST IN PEACE❤️🙏🥲

  22. Ivan and Rose Turner

    Blessings to the family of the greatest pilot , exciting member of Ancient Aviators of Alabama. He is greatly missed.

  23. Richard Lambert

    I was a student of Capt. Shelton at Vance AFB in 1970. During my life I have been blessed by exceptional people. Capt. Shelton was one of them.

  24. Susan

    A good man who loved life and gave freely to others without expecting anything in return, other than the joy of friendship.
    He will be dearly missed.

  25. Eileen Sevening (then)

    Col Shelton sir, I was a Sergeant working at the Operations Division, Detachment 1, 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan. Thank you for sharing your great wisdom, quick wit, sense of humor, and smiles… truly appreciated how you listened to young airmen like me under your examplary tenure as Commander. The world has lost a great man. It was an honor and a privilege to have served under your command.

    Fly higher than any SR-71!

    Ms Pat, my deepest sympathies.

  26. Frank McEvoy

    You will be missed. Truly a great commander.

  27. Kevin Best

    My deepest sympathy to Pat and the family. I was recently reminiscing about the good ole days and looked up a list of all the crewmembers who flew the SR-71. I was quite dismayed when I saw Lee was listed as deceased. Definitely gone too soon. Lee was a very gracious and calm leader. As a KC-135Q navigator from 1977-1984, I fondly recall refueling him in the sled. We were also stationed together at Kadena Air Base where he was the last Det 1 commander and I was the last KC-135 detachment commander when the SR retired. We had a great working relationship. He always had a smile. Just a great guy! RIP sir.


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