Cover photo for Kathleen T. "Kathy" Shelton's Obituary
Kathleen T. "Kathy" Shelton Profile Photo

Kathleen T. "Kathy" Shelton

July 29, 1944 — June 21, 2024


We are not sure where she got all of her energy, but everyday with her youthful spirit our Mom supported what she truly loved: her family, education, and her faith.


Kathleen (Kathy) Thurston was born in Chicago on July 29, 1944, to John Edward and Catherine (Angsten) Thurston. Their family grew to include her younger brother, Thomas (Tom).


Kathy’s family moved to Crystal Lake, Illinois, where she completed elementary through high school. She attended Mount Mary College in Milwaukee and earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 1966.


Kathy was naturally skilled with children, a gift she would use throughout her life. She taught third grade in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, until her marriage to Michael Shelton in December 1968. 


She and Michael respected and were devoted to each other. They enjoyed both special occasions (especially traveling to Hawaii) and simple times together. They were happily married for exactly 55 ½ years.


She and Michael moved to the west side of Madison, Wisconsin, in 1970, where they raised their family of four daughters and lived together until her passing. With Michael, Kathy built a happy home for their children who were encouraged to value family, friends, learning, hard work, and nature.


Kathy was amazingly organized. She kept meticulous calendars to track all of her children’s (and later grandchildren’s) activities. She spent hundreds of hours attending music, scouting, sports, dance, and church events. She volunteered in schools and at church.


Later, when their children were older, she returned to work in education. She worked as an educational assistant at Memorial High School from 1988 to 2006. In 2005, the staff honored her with the Unsung Hero award.


She adored her eight “grands.” She lit up whenever they walked into the room. Her oldest grandchild, Andrew, was unable to pronounce “Grandma.” Henceforth, she was known by “Hama” to her family. 


Kathy laughed easily and didn’t take herself too seriously. Her gentleness, kindness, and patience made an impression on all who met her, and she was fiercely loyal to the people and principles she held dear. 


She made holidays, birthdays, and events special for her family with meals, cards (often embellished with stickers), carefully wrapped gifts, and baked treats.


Kathy loved the seasons and all kinds of weather, even and especially terrible weather, for she never lost her sense of awe when it came to nature. Music, art and all types of sports and entertainment brought her great joy.


She loved working in her yard, tending to her flowers, and watching and listening to birds (except wrens!). 


Although she was self-effacing about her academic achievements, she was an avid reader, especially of nonfiction.


She had a great love of mustard (perhaps from her German side) and unintentionally collected dozens of varieties in her refrigerator.


In her sixties, Kathy began yoga and made dear friends in her classes. Over the years, she became close to the women at her favorite salon as well. 


Kathy continued to be interested in learning about people through the last days of her life, when she enjoyed talking with her caretakers at Agrace.


Our family would like to thank the doctors, nurses and other caregivers at UW Hospital and Agrace who so compassionately cared for our Mom in the weeks after she learned of her illness. She passed away peacefully at Agrace on the night of June 21, 2024, during the Strawberry Moon (she loved strawberries).


Kathy/Mom leaves behind a family who loved her very much: Husband Michael and their daughters and families: Jill Shelton (Asa) Miura and their children Kin and Risa, Amy (Stephen) Chafe and their children Andrew and John, Susan (Bradley) Ashmore and their children Grace and Charlie, and Katie Shelton (David Nacol) and their children Isaac and Arthur. In addition, she was loved by her brother, Tom Thurston, in-laws, cousins, many nieces and nephews, and dear friends. Her gentle spirit will be greatly missed by all who knew her.


A funeral mass will be held at St. Thomas Aquinas church on Monday, July 1 at 11:00 am. A visitation will be held at the church before the funeral from 9:30 to 11:00 am.


In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial donations be made in Kathy’s honor to the Foundation for Madison Public Schools or Agrace (hospice).

Below is a link to view the St. Thomas Aquinas YouTube Channel. We will begin streaming about 15 minutes before Mass for everyone to get settled to join us in prayer. We encourage those joining us online to create a prayerful setting in their home - like a home altar space with a candle, flowers, a picture of Kathy, and perhaps a special remembrance. We look forward to praying our Mass together for Kathy.

Livestream link:


Please share your memories at

Cress Center

6021 University Ave. Madison

(608) 238-8406

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