Obituary: James Stanford Shelby M.D.

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James Stanford Shelby M.D. passed away peacefully, surrounded by his loving family on April 1, 2017. Family will receive friends on Wednesday, April 5, 2017 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Rose-Neath Funeral Home, 1815 Marshall St. Shreveport, LA 71101. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, April 6, 2017 at The Cathedral of St. John Berchmans Catholic Church. Burial will follow at Forest Park Cemetery, St. Vincent Ave. Officiating will be Father Peter Mangum and concelebrant Msgr. Carson LaCaze.

“Papaw,” as he was lovingly called by his family, was born in Ringgold, Louisiana to Jesse Aubrey Shelby and Mabel Martin Shelby on June 15, 1934. He graduated from Arcadia High School, where he was an accomplished classical pianist. He attended Louisiana Tech University, where he completed his Bachelors of Science in Liberal Arts in approximately 2 1/2 years.

He entered medical school at age 19 at LSU Medical Center in New Orleans and graduated with his medical degree in 1958. He then completed internship at Charity Hospital from 1958-59 and a residency in combined General and Thoracic Surgery at Charity Hospital in New Orleans from 1959-65. His residency was briefly interrupted when he served as a Captain in United States Army from 1961 to 1962. After completing residency, he accepted a Cardiovascular Fellowship at the world-renowned Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. While training with Dr. Michael DeBakey and Dr. Denton A. Cooley from 1965-1966, he was on the front-line of the emerging science of heart surgery. Dr. Shelby was part of the surgical team that performed the first successful Coronary Artery Bypass Graft at Baylor College of Medicine. He then moved to Shreveport-Bossier to establish a previously non-existent cardiac program at Confederate Memorial Hospital now known as University Health. He left Shreveport and moved to New Orleans in 1969 to help establish and promote an infant cardiac program. Once the program was up and running, and with the encouragement of Dr. Robert Lafarque, he returned to Shreveport-Bossier to continue his pioneering work in Cardiovascular and Thoracic surgery.

“Is my heart still beating?” was the first question asked by Dr. Shelby’s 6 year-old-patient after she awoke from the first cardiac procedure performed in the Shreveport-Bossier area. Along with many other thousands of patients, the child was given a new chance at life because of Dr. Shelby. Prior to Dr. Shelby’s arrival, patients in the Ark-La-Tex needing major heart surgery traveled to Houston. In addition to lives he saved, by his energy and example, he opened a gateway for the expansion and progress of the medical community in Shreveport, which became a center of excellence in its own right. Dr. Shelby’s masterful surgical skills and pioneering drive were matched only by his humility and kindness. He was always gentle and empathetic with his patients and their families, leaving them feeling reassured and hopeful. He treated the operating room and hospital staff as if they were family and created an environment that allowed people to work at their best even during the most stressful late-night emergencies.

After retiring from practice, Dr. Shelby became a mentor to younger doctors many of who fondly recall him “holding court” and conversing with them in the Willis-Knighton doctor’s dining room. In addition to being a dedicated surgeon, he also was an enthusiastic investor, studious market watcher, passionate numismatist, and an avid history buff. In 1982, he received the Medallion Award from his Alma Mater Louisiana Tech in 1982. He also received the American Heart Association’s Achievement Award in 1999 presented to him by his distinguished mentor, Dr. DeBakey.

While he was training in Houston, he met the love of his life Susan Rainey. She was the youngest surgical head nurse for the renowned Dr. Cooley. They were married in 1967 and this year are celebrating 50 years of marriage. He was preceded in death by his first son, James Stanford “Jeb” Shelby II. He is survived by his wife, Susan Rainey Shelby; sons, Dr. Bryan Christian Shelby and wife Dr. Vicky Tola-Shelby and Dr. Christopher Lindon Shelby and wife Carolyn Woods Shelby; his brother Dr. Barry A. Shelby and wife Judy and their children; and his brother-in-law, Chris Rainey and wife Rosalie and their family. He leaves behind five grandchildren, Stanford, Linden, Christopher, Michael and Matthew.

Honoring Stan as pallbearers will be Dr. Charlie Black, James Cureington, Dr. Raymond Dennie, Chad Shelby, Christopher Shelby, Stanford Shelby, and Dr. Anil Veluvolu.

Serving as honorary pallbearers will be Mr. Jack Batson, Dr. Jack Berry, Dr. Randy Bryn, Mr. James Elrod, Dr. Michael Futrell, Mr. Delton Harrison, Dr. Robert Lafargue, Tandy Lewis, Dr. Michael Moore, Robert Pugh, Jr., W. Clinton Raspberry, Jr., Dr. John Valiulis, and Dr. Simeon Wall.

The family would like to thank Jimmy Stewart, Robert Stewart, McKayla “KK” Adams, Victoria Adams, Nina Hollins and Dorothy Triggs (deceased) for their friendship and care through the years; Mr. Nicholas Wibben and wife Gayle for all their years of friendship; sitters Yolanda Canada, Taki Epps, and Erica Lowry, the doctors and clinical staff of the Willis-Knighton North Step Down Unit, Dr. Joseph Farquhar, Dr. Ashok Kompelli, Dr. Robert Nickelson, Dr. Lane Rosen, Dr. Robert Taylor, and the Willis-Knighton Cancer Center for their exceptional care of their beloved Papaw and husband. The family would also like to give special thanks and gratitude to Dr. Shelby’s long-time secretary Susan Turner and Physician Assistant James Cureington for their continuing friendship and support. Without them, Dr. Shelby said his practice would have been impossible.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials may be made to the Caddo-Bossier Cancer-Foundation League, Inc. 3300 Albert Bicknell Dr. #3, Shreveport LA 71103 (www.caddo-bossiercancerfoundationleague.org) or charity of the donor’s choice.