A Life Lived: Lonnie Shell had a special love for his church family and friends

Published 1:15 pm Tuesday, August 30, 2022

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There’s an old saying: Church is not something you go to, it’s a family you belong to.
Lonnie Shell firmly believed that. He was a faithful member of Valley Forge Free Will Baptist Church. His wife, Geraldine, said Lonnie enjoyed church activities and being with his church family. When he became unable to attend church, he watched it live-screen.
Lonnie died August 18 at the age of 80.
He and Geraldine had no children of their own, but Lonnie enjoyed the children at Valley Forge Free Will. He was a big fan of Vacation Bible School and enjoyed working with the VBS children and playing with them. A couple of his favorite church events were the end-of-summer picnic and church camp on Labor Day weekend.
“He was faithful to his church and didn’t like to miss. He looked forward to church all week,” said Geraldine.
Lonnie, who grew up in Sugar Hollow in Roan Mountain had five brothers and five sisters. Only one brother survives. Lonnie was a Vietnam War veteran.
He and Geraldine had been married 52 years and she was always by his side and his biggest supporter. During the early years of their marriage, the couple lived on Simerly Creek but eventually moved to Elizabethton, and it has been home for a long time.
Lonnie enjoyed staying busy, and he especially enjoyed planting and growing a garden, which he shared with church family and neighbors. “He grew all kinds of vegetables  – tomatoes, potatoes, beans, cucumbers, etc. Lonnie had a green thumb and always had success with his gardens. We canned a lot of what he grew, but he enjoyed sharing a basket of produce with the neighbors, especially the elderly,” said Geraldine.
He also had grapevines, and, he, too, shared them with neighbors. “He always shared with his neighbors. The Lord blessed him in so many ways,” said Geraldine, who is now coping with Lonnie’s death.
Geraldine described Lonnie as a jack-of-all-trades. “He could do anything. He built the carport and garage at our home. He could lay brick. He was very competitive, but had the patience of Job,” she shared.
In addition to gardening, Lonnie enjoyed working with antique engines, and had a number of them. He enjoyed starting several of them up and letting them run  – all at one time, and in the garage. Geraldine said Lonnie almost always attended the East Tenn. Antique Engine Crank-Up held every June on Sciota Road.
Geraldine and Lonnie were caregivers to both his mother and her mother. “We kept both of them  – at different times – in our home until they passed,” she said.
When Lonnie wasn’t outside working, he enjoyed watching some of the old shows on television – Gunsmoke, Andy Griffith, and the like. He also enjoyed Bible Word Search Puzzles.
Lonnie Shell leaves us a great example to live by. He loved his family, his neighbors, and his church. He was a Christian and to Lonnie, going to church every Sunday was like going to the gas station once a week and really, really filling up.
He was laid to rest among fellow veterans at the VA Cemetery at Mountain Home, and received military honors at his graveside service. Lonnie Shell left us an example for living.

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