Alton James Shea passed away Saturday, January 17, 2015, just six days after his 101st birthday. He was born January 11, 1914, in Winchester, Ontario, Canada, the third son of the late Adam Joseph Shea and Maude Whitney Shea. He married Aileen Ortlip, who predeceased him in 2007.
Rev. Shea and his wife, Aileen, a noted artist, served Christ’s Kingdom in a variety ways and places for over 60 years. Rev. Shea graduated from Houghton College in 1936 and took further theological studies at Biblical Seminary in New York City.
Alton and Aileen married in 1938 and commenced pastoral ministry at Gates Wesleyan Church in Rochester, N.Y. He was ordained in the Wesleyan Methodist denomination in 1940. Subsequently, Rev. Shea served congregations in other New York communities, including Painted Post, Canisteo, Houghton, Wellsville, Alfred and Oramel.
In 1970, after 14 years of local church and weekly radio broadcast ministries in Wellsville, the Sheas served as Wesleyan missionaries to Sierra Leone, West Africa, giving seven years in gospel radio production in several African languages for airing over Radio ELWA in Liberia.
Their lifelong ministry embraced preaching, evangelism, singing and chalk art, as well as pastoral work and gospel radio production. Rev. Shea had a lifelong interest and prayer concern for God’s Kingdom at home and around the world. He desired everyone to experience God’s love and care through a relationship with Jesus.
Surviving are three children, Jonathan (Pat) Shea of Rock Hill, S.C., Eila Shea of Belmont and Paul (Debbie) Shea of Houghton; five grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; a sister, Ruth Willett of Dahlonega, Ga.; and several nieces and nephews.
He was predeceased by siblings, Pauline Lusk, Whitney Shea, Mary Robinson, George Beverly Shea (the noted song evangelist), Lois Wright and Grace Baker.Family and friends may gather from 2 to 3 p.m. on Sunday (Jan. 25, 2015) at Houghton Wesleyan Church, where a memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. The Rev. Dr. Wes Oden will officiate. Burial will be at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, Houghton.