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In the Heart of the Blackland Divide

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Roscoe Icon Bernard Shelan Dies in Longview

Bernard Shelan, 96, one of the last of a disappearing generation and for years one of the best known people in Roscoe and west Texas, died in Longview last Wednesday night. 

After making his name as a football player for the Roscoe Plowboys and the ACC Wildcats in the 1930s, he served in the Army Air Corps in World War II, got married, and after the war returned to Roscoe to raise three sons with his wife, Sylvia. 

He took over the family business, Shelansky Dry Goods, and over the years developed it into one of the most prominent western wear stores in the Big Country.  Always one of Roscoe’s most active and civic-minded citizens, he was a long-time volunteer fireman and member of the Lions Club.  He will be remembered for his friendliness, good cheer, and community involvement.

A complete obituary is provided below.  


A memorial wreath on I-20 where Cory Lynn Carlile died.
A driver going the wrong way on I-20 early Friday morning collided head-on with another car three miles west of Roscoe causing one fatality and one injury.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, Gustavo Cervantes, 36, of Wichita Falls, was driving a 2002 Dodge Ram eastbound in the westbound passing lane of I-20 when he crashed into a 2006 Toyota SXC at approximately 2:41am.  Cervantes was taken to Hendrick Medical Center in Abilene and has since been released.

Cory Lynn Carlile, 41, of Rowlett, who was driving the Toyota the right way, wasn’t so lucky.  A technician for Exterran, a natural gas company in Fort Worth, he was apparently killed instantly and was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. The body was taken to McCoy Funeral Home in Roscoe.

The crash occurred .4 of a mile east of mile marker 233, just west of the Duncan-Hastings road overpass.  It is currently under investigation by the Texas Department of Public Safety.


by John Cox

The catapult built by the Physics class.
Roscoe Collegiate High recently completed a Punkin' Chunkin' Contest.  Robotics challenged the Physics class and the Ag Department to a contest with each team having a week to construct a catapult.

Robotics won the event with a long throw of 90 feet for the pumpkin and 120 feet for a basketball.  They used a trebuchet design as seen in the photos.


by Ann Klepper Etheredge

Several members of the Roscoe High School Class of 1962 celebrated their 50th anniversary with a reunion recently in San Antonio.  Friendships were renewed and many memories were shared of "how things used to be and who we were back then."  Age & fading memories did not allow the truth to interfere with good stories. 

The older, but never "former," Plowgirls and Plowboys took a barge ride on the San Antonio River, ate some great food, and took lots of pictures—at least those who knew how to operate their phones or cameras took pictures! 

It was a wonderful weekend with lots of laughter.  At the end of one evening, the group gathered in a circle and surprised others in the restaurant by singing "The Eyes of Roscoe" and loudly cheering, "R-R-R-o-s, C-C-C-o-e, R-O-S-C-O-E, Roscoe!  Roscoe!  Roscoe!" 

Those attending were Ruth Ellen (Richburg) Hill, Diane Smalligan, Betty (Parks) Graham, Kathryn (Kerby) Rister, Retha (Dooley) Antoniello, Pat (Nations) Althof, Joe Darrell Powell, Warren and Georgia Haney, Wade and Judy McLeod, Lewis and Monica Cleckler, Ed and Lynda (Hastings) Stafford, and Cliff and Ann (Klepper) Etheredge.



The sorry state of Lake Trammell.  The stench of the visible dead fish fills the air around what's left of the water.  (Photo courtesy of Robert McBride.)
Beautiful Thanksgiving weather was followed by a cool weekend with highs in the sixties and lows in the forties.  On Sunday the high got up to 77°F, but then a cold front came in, and yesterday morning Roscoe got another freeze.  The temperature dropped down to 30°F and stayed there for about four hours.

Today’s high should be in only the sixties, but the forecast is for warmer weather tomorrow with highs in the mid to upper seventies through the weekend and into early next week.  Lows should be in the fifties.

Despite the day-to-day fluctuations, the long term view is that the area still needs more precipitation.  Last year’s drought has still not been completely overcome, as can be seen by the current state of Lake Trammell, pictured above, which is almost dried up.

Unfortunately, there is no rain in the forecast.



Graveside services were held at 2:00pm on Sunday at Congregation Shearith Israel Cemetery in Dallas for Bernard M. Shelan (né Shelansky), 96, who passed away last Wednesday, November 21, from natural causes.

Bernard M. Shelansky was born on July 17, 1916, in St. Louis to Charles and Rae Shelansky and raised in South Philadelphia. At the age of 13, he moved with his parents and brothers, Harold and Bobby, to Roscoe, where his parents opened Shelansky’s Dry Goods.  He quickly embraced his new life and made many friends by joining the Boy Scouts, taking on a paper route, and playing sports—especially football.  Although he was small in stature, his speed and agility on the football field earned him many accolades, including the nickname Mousie and a football scholarship to Abilene Christian College.  By the time he finished senior year there, he had set a record for kickoff returns that remained intact for the next 20 years.

In 1938, he graduated with a B.S. Degree in Physical Training and moved to Houston to teach courses at the Houston Jewish Community Center. In 1941, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and was stationed in Houston. During this time, he met and dated Sylvia R. Krawitz of Tulsa, OK. They were married in Houston in 1943 and after the war returned to Roscoe to assume ownership of the family store. During the ensuing thirty years, they developed Shelansky’s Dry Goods into the region’s most prominent western wear store and a social hub of the community. 

For 18 years, he was an active member of the volunteer fire department, often leaving his store at a moment’s notice when the siren signaled. He fought ranch fires in 106°F temperatures and winter fires so cold that the water from the fire hose froze on contact. He was a Lion and a lifelong member of the Elks Club, as well as a Shriner, where he was a 32nd degree Mason, and served as president of the Shriners in 1966.

He and Sylvia raised their three sons, Ronald, Charles, and Evan, to believe in the importance of honesty, hard work, humor, and education.  He encouraged all three boys to participate in sports and taught them the significance of teamwork and perseverance. He was admired by friends and family for his strength of character and will.

In 1979, he and Sylvia sold Shelansky’s Dry Goods and retired to Abilene, where they remained until 1993, when they relocated to Longview to be closer to their youngest son, Evan, and his family. They were longtime members of Temple Mizpah in Abilene and Temple Emanu-El in Longview.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Charles and Rae, and two brothers, Harold and Bobby. He is survived by Sylvia Shelan, his wife of 69 years; his sons and daughters-in-law, Ronald and Lillian Shelan of Santa Rosa, CA, Charles and Norma Shelan of Olympia, WA, and Evan and Debbie Shelan of Longview; granddaughters Naomi Shelan and Rick Dell’Ara of San Francisco, CA, Lillian and Casey Berman of San Francisco, CA, Aliza Shelan of San Francisco, CA, Ashleah Shelan of Los Angeles, CA, Heather and Tim Cole of Melbourne, Australia, Erin and Wade Skinner of Flint, TX, and Stephanie and Doni Katz of Berkeley, CA; and his four great grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to the Shriner’s Hospital, Temple Emanu-El,  Longview, TX 75605.


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