John Leonard Shelton Profile Photo
1937 John 2024

John Leonard Shelton

November 5, 1937 — July 7, 2024

John “Leonard” or “Shorty” Shelton was born November 5, 1937 to J. Roy Shelton and Clara (Darmer) Shelton. He was born and raised on a farm near Perry, Oklahoma and was baptized in a small country church. 

He passed from this life July 7, 2024 at Green Valley Nursing Home. A Celebration of Life will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, July 12, 2024 at the Perry High School Auditorium at Perry, Oklahoma. Bill Sweger and Mark Kirk will officiate. Burial will be at Grace Hill Cemetery. Dighton-Marler Funeral Home has been entrusted with service arrangements. 

Leonard attended Fairview and 4D country schools through eighth grade and entered the Perry School system in ninth grade graduating in 1955. 

Coach John Divine recruited Leonard for the Perry wrestling program shortly after he entered Perry schools and he began his wrestling career. Leonard became a state champion his senior year and received a full wrestling scholarship to the University of Oklahoma. Port Robertson, OU coach, was partial to Perry wrestlers and came to Perry each year to select the wrestlers he wanted to offer scholarships, so there were several Perry wrestlers on the OU team at the time Leonard was recruited.

Port was a wonderful, though tough, coach and became a mentor and father figure to Leonard throughout his college career in which he became an All American, taking fourth place at the National level. He completed his Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Education and returned to Perry to take over the family farm due to the loss of his beloved father who was his best friend throughout his life and his biggest fan throughout his wrestling career attending every match and tournament.

Leonard married his high school sweetheart, Anna Cermak, in 1956 and they raised their family in Perry. A few years after they established their home on the farm, Leonard was recruited to help with the Perry wrestling program as an assistant coach to Rex Edgar and as Junior High Coach. He became the head high school wrestling coach in 1970 and in 1971 began a streak of winning state championships which resulted in Perry’s title for most state championships in the nation that has continued to this day.

Leonard received many personal honors including Oklahoma Coach of the Year eight times and Coach of the Year on the national level in District 5 in 1972 and 1979. He was runner-up for National Wrestling Coach in 1979 and was inducted into the Perry Alumni Hall of Fame. In accepting awards or giving interviews, Leonard was humble and unassuming and always gave the credit for his success to his hard-working wrestlers as well as to his assistant coach, Fred Waltermire, and the Junior High Coach Terry Leonard.

Many of Coach Shelton’s wrestlers were recruited by colleges and universities, also gaining wrestling honors and going on to become coaches as well. Coach Shelton remained close to his former wrestlers and welcomed them back to his wrestling room to visit or volunteer after they graduated. They were his lifelong friends, and his wrestling stories were unending. A favorite story was that other teams were so tired of Perry winning the state tournaments that our wrestlers were booed each time they stepped on the mat. Standing by Leonard, one of the other coaches said, “I sure wish they were booing me like that”.

Leonard’s love of farming was equal to his love of the sport of wrestling. He continued to farm and ranch throughout his wrestling and teaching career and he and Anna raised their three children on the farm. He taught them to help with the farming operation and work the land. They have many stories to tell about growing up on the farm. Leonard was a true steward of the land and followed good farming practices to preserve and improve the land. The days were long, and he appreciated every sunrise and sunset as he began and ended each day. Several of his wrestlers were employed on the farm during the summers. Vacations were few and often spent outdoors, either at lakes or in the mountains, water skiing, snow skiing or having cookouts or camping. Friends and relatives were always welcome. When the grandsons were born, Leonard was thrilled that all three were interested in wrestling. He volunteered to help with the fifth and sixth grade program and followed them throughout their careers, reliving his wrestling experiences. All the grandsons also helped on the farm as they grew older. He was very proud of his family, and they were always in his thoughts and prayers. 

Leonard is survived by his wife Anna of the home; son, JD Shelton, Perry; daughters and sons-in-law: Leslie and Dave Fleming, Perry, and Karen and Rogers Bowers, Stillwater; grandsons: Ry Fleming and wife Miranda and their daughter Vera of Oklahoma City, and Zane Fleming and wife Molly and their daughter Parker and son Hayes of Perkins, Oklahoma; brother, Ralph Shelton, Perkins; and many nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents, his sister and brother-in-law Barbara and Frank Sweger, and sister and brother-in-law Verna Lee and Marvin Swart.

The family has asked memorials be made to the Perry Wrestling Alumni Scholarship Fund in care of Dighton-Marler Funeral Home, 203 Fir Avenue, P. O. Box 198, Perry, Oklahoma 73077. Condolences may be sent to the family via an online guest book at The event will live stream on Leonard’s web page also at


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Service Schedule

Past Services


Thursday, July 11, 2024

9:00am - 8:00 pm (Central time)

Perry - Dighton Marler Funeral Home

203 Fir St, Perry, OK 73077

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Funeral Service

Friday, July 12, 2024

2:00 - 3:00 pm (Central time)

Pery High School Auditorium

900 Fir Ave, Perry, OK 73077


Click to watch

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Friday, July 12, 2024

3:30 - 4:30 pm (Central time)

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