Terri Lee Shelton (Erickson); (Nii-gon-nii-anung-iiquay. First Star Woman); 67, of Walker, Minnesota; mother, legend, caregiver, protector, hula-hooper, jack-of-all-trades, trickster, Navy Veteran, horseback rider, writer, storyteller, free-spirit, gymnast, fisherwoman, gardener, cook, fighter, sister, survivor, decided on the evening of 27 December 2019 it was finally time to courageously, and gracefully let go of her earthly body before stepping into the next adventure that awaits her. Terri was spending the winter at her sister’s home in Norman, Oklahoma at the time of her death, surrounded and supported in her transition from life by so many who love her.
Terri was diagnosed with stomach cancer in January 2019, which set into motion an intense year-long journey of survival, and in spite of the hardship that comes with such a disease, she truly made the most of the life she had left. It created the perfect opportunity for stories, adventure, and healing connections with those that meant the most to her: “Please, my wish for today is my girls, my brother, and my sweet sister find comfort in knowing they are all going to be okay- I have lived a wonderful life- without all of them my life would have been an empty shell. I am happy for all of them.”
Terri was born on 6 July 1952 to Ole and Mary Lee Erickson in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. She spent her early years with her family in Boy River, and attended Northland High School in Remer, until her senior year, where she graduated from Monticello High School in 1970. She led an adventurous, unconventional life that included Veterinary Technician School, owning several bars, surviving a hot-dog stand explosion, managing fishing camps in both The Lake of the Woods and Northwest Territories, and enlisting in the Navy as an Ocean Systems Technician in 1984. Terri was stationed at several different SOSUS posts throughout her military career, where she specialized in tracking Soviet Submarines- not unlike the infamous, ‘The Hunt for Red October’. She was stationed at a base in Brawdy, Wales, before being stationed in Guam, where she completed her enlistment as an E-5, Petty Officer Second Class. While in Guam, Terri met Robin Shelton, her husband of 25 years, and father of her three children: Katie, Kim, and Emily. Terri lived over 20 years in North Yorkshire, England, with Robin, their daughters, and two notorious Parrots. As a mother, Terri was known for encouraging her daughters’ many hobbies, and empowering them to pursue whatever dreams their hearts desired. She also spent this time in her life as an entrepreneur of several businesses, before completing her Bachelor’s Degree in Business. Terri moved home to Minnesota in 2010 where she worked for the Census Bureau, got her CDL for driving truck, and pursued her passion for fixing up vintage campers with her sister, Tina. She dedicated several years of her life to caretaking for her mom, Mary Lee, and tending to Agidaaki/Tower Hill Farm. Terri could also be found tinkering, and storytelling by the fire at her property on Leech Lake. Terri is remembered by those who knew her as: mischievous, inspirational, creative, kind-hearted, adventurous, curious, quick-witted, supportive, a true-confidant and friend.
Terri is preceded in death by her father, Ole Erickson; her mother, Mary Lee Fairbanks (Anderson); her former husband and friend, Robin Shelton; and life-long friends Lon Thomas, Tim Heyman, Jerry Simpson, Mike Brink, and Craig Guy.
Terri is survived by her daughters, Katie, Kim, and Emily Shelton; her brother, Tony Erickson, and dear friend Marcy Erickson; her sisters, Tina Bellis (Doug), and Birdie Lyons (Mike Myers); her nieces, Megan (Lewie), Ashley, Erin, Jenna, and Carmen, her great niece and nephews; her little dog Squeek, and many friends.
An at-home family ceremonial service was held for Terri on 28 December 2019, officiated by Mike Myers; Post-life arrangements were supported by Oklahoma City Cremation; Family and friends of Terri are invited to attend her Graveside Military Honors at the Island Zion Cemetery in Boy River, Minnesota at 2:00 p.m. on 6 July 2020 followed by a celebration of her life at Ole’s Outpost, Leech Lake.
Donations can be made in Terri’s honor to ‘Debbie’s Dream Foundation: Curing Stomach Cancer’ via Debbiesdream.org; Condolences may be sent to 2633 Timberlane Way SW, Bemidji, MN 56601.