J. Shelton Horsley III, MD

Class Year




Posted on: June 29, 2020

Dr. J. Shelton Horsley III, died on June 18, 2020, at the age of 92. He was born on October 3, 1927 in Richmond, Va. and was the son of Dr. John S. Horsley, Jr. and Lillian Holladay Horsley. He is survived by his wife, Mary Gall Horsley; and their children, Sally Hillenbrand, her husband, Bruce and their children, Liza Hartofilis (Sean), Ned (Gaby) and Rob (Jackie), Janet Willis, her husband, Bruce and their son, Jeffrey (Angelina) and Shelton Horsley, his wife, Elizabeth and their sons, Jack and Will. He is also survived by his sister, Janet Mauck; and sister-in-law, Cookie Horsley.

Shelton grew up in Richmond and graduated from St. Christopher’s School where he led the Honor Committee and the Student Council, captained the basketball and tennis teams, and played on two of the best football teams in the school’s history. His experience there was foundational. It was a place to which he dedicated his time and energy as an alumni volunteer and serving on its Board of Governors, ultimately as its Chairman.

He attended college at the University of Virginia where he continued as a scholar-athlete. He was a member of St. Anthony Hall, TILKA, the IMP Society, ODK, the Thirteen Society and the Seven Society. He earned varsity letters in football and basketball and captained the tennis team. In the middle of his college tenure, he served for 15 months in the U.S. Army – Medical Corps in Germany. Upon receiving his undergraduate degree, he enrolled in Medical School at UVA where he earned his M.D. and won the Raven Award. His internship and residency were spent in Boston and New York where he trained at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Presbyterian Medical School and Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital.

After beginning his career practicing general surgery at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Richmond, he found his calling and became a teacher/practitioner as Professor of Surgery at UVA’s School of Medicine and then as Professor of Surgical Oncology at the Medical College of Virginia and McGuire Veterans Hospital in Richmond. Throughout his career he was actively involved in many local and national medical associations and held leadership roles in the Richmond Academy of Medicine, the Southern Society of Clinical Surgeons, and the American College of Surgeons to name a few. Among the various awards, titles, and acknowledgements he received during his career, he was most proud of being named the Best Attending Physician by several graduating classes at UVA and MCV.

Papa, as he was known to his family, was a humble, hardworking, fun-loving man with a great sense of humor. He was a seemingly irreconcilable combination of being kind, thoughtful and gentle yet one of the most competitive people you would ever meet, but he could pull it off. He was blessed with an extended family in Virginia and throughout the Northeast with whom he shared lots of love, laughs and admiration. He loved his friends and he had many throughout his life. The support and companionship he shared with Jim Anderson in recent years was particularly important to him.

A private burial will be held for the family. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. Christopher’s School, The Massey Cancer Center, or a charity of your choice.