CONWAY — Dr. John Robert Shell, of Conway, died Thursday, September 13, 2012. He was born August 16, 1925, in Pine Bluff and was a son to Claude Irving and Eula Evelyn Hartsell Robertson Shell. He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Gwendolen Rees-Jones Shell. John graduated from Pine Bluff High School and earned a BA in Economics and Bus. Admin, from Maryville College, in Maryville, Tennessee. Following college graduation, he worked in the family business, Shell-Ross Company & Seedsmen, in Pine Bluff. Even after formally leaving the family business, he continued as an inactive partner until the business was sold in 1974. Pursuing a call to the ministry, he left Shell-Ross and enrolled in Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Austin, Texas. He ultimately earned three degrees from the institution. The first was a Master of Divinity in 1954. He subsequently obtained a Master of Theology in 1961 and additionally earned a Doctorate of Ministry in 1979. Dr. Shell was ordained to the office of Deacon, Presbyterian Church, US, in Central Presbyterian Church, Pine Bluff, in 1947. He also served for two years as Chairman of the Board of Deacon. After completing his doctoral studies, John and Gwen focused a portion of their ministry by helping couples work on enhancing their marriages and relationships. The Shells became certified counselors in marriage enrichment by the Association For Couples in Marriage Enrichment (ACME) in Winston Salem, N.C.
Dr. Shell was called to serve two pastorates during his ministry. He first served as pastor of the Presbyterian churches in Dermott and Tillar. In this capacity, he was ordained on July 11, 1954 as a Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church, US, and installed as Pastor of the churches in Dermott, and Tillar. They family moved from Dermott in 1958 when John was called to be pastor of First Presbyterian Church, in Conway. He was installed there in October 1958. He continued to serve the Conway church until he officially retired as pastor of the Conway church in early 1989. He was elected Pastor Emeritus on November 12, 1989 of the Conway church. During his years in Conway, John also served as Stated Supply Pastor of Cove Chapel Presbyterian Church in Martinville, Ark. For two years following retirement, John and Gwen served as Volunteers in Ministry at Presbyterian Mo-Ranch Conference Center in Hunt, Texas. Following service at Mo-Ranch, John served as Interim Pastor at Presbyterian churches across Arkansas in Dermott, Walnut Ridge, Benton, Stuttgart, Clarksville, Mountainburg, Beebe, Mena, and Pine Bluff (Belair church).
In addition to his wife, Gwen, he is survived by a daughter, Elizabeth Jane Shell Hanschu and husband Dan of Neosho, Mo.; sons: Martin William Shell and wife Lee Ann of Los Altos, Calif., Paul Calvin Shell of North Little Rock, and Philip Andrew Shell and wife Leah of Little Rock; 10 grandchildren; six great-grandchildren and a host of extended family and friends. He was preceded in death by his aforementioned parents, a son, John Robert (Bobby) Shell, Jr.; brothers, Claude Irving Shell, Jr. and Thomas Martin Robertson and a sister Doris Elizabeth Robertson.
Services will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, September 16, 2012, at First Presbyterian Church in Conway with Rev. Drew G. Travis officiating. Interment will be 11 a.m. Monday at Shell Cemetery in Grant County, under the direction of Roller-McNutt Funeral Home, Conway (501-327-7727). In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to the First Presbyterian Church in Conway or your favorite charity. On line guest book: www.rollerfuneralhomes.com.