Obituary: Sheldon Cole Rieley, 1939-2024 (2024)

Burlington man’s lifelong passion was boating, and he sailed all around eastern U.S., Canada and the Caribbean with his wife

Published June 4, 2024 at 6:00 a.m.| Updated June 4, 2024 at 1:01 p.m.

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  • Sheldon Rieley

Sheldon Cole Rieley, 85, died peacefully on Friday, May 31, 2024, at the University of Vermont Medical Center. Shell was born on February 8, 1939, in Cleveland, Ohio, to C. Sheldon Rieley and Katrine Charnley Rieley. He was raised in Elyria, Ohio, and graduated from Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio, in June 1957. During his time at Western Reserve, he made many lifelong friends and was active in sports; he was a member of the soccer team, captain of the swim team and a member of the All-American Prep School Swim Team.

Shell studied mechanical engineering at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., graduating in 1964 with a master’s of mechanical engineering. While at Cornell, Shell met fellow student Penelope Byrne, and they married in June 1961. In summer 1963, before Shell’s last year of college, he and Penny went to Europe, bought an Austin-Healy Sprite sports car and had a lifetime experience traveling through Europe for the summer. Son Sheldon Scott arrived later that fall.

Shell and Penny’s first home after leaving Ithaca was in Charleston, W.Va., where Shell worked for Dupont from January 1964 to June 1966. Their daughter Paige was born in Charleston in 1965.

A position with IBM brought Shell and family to Burlington, Vt., in July 1966, where their younger daughter, Erin, was born in 1967. At IBM, Shell worked in development engineering and management for 26 years, retiring in August 1992.

Boating was a lifelong passion that Shell inherited from his father. While at IBM, Shell was able to take a six-month leave of absence, during which his family boarded their 36-foot sailboat and spent the winter cruising the Caribbean to Grenada and back — a family adventure still remembered by all.

Shell was a 50-plus-year member of First Congregational Church in Burlington, was active on church committees and enjoyed ushering on Sunday mornings. Shell joined the Lake Champlain Yacht Club in 1973, remaining a lifelong member and mooring a series of sailboats and powerboats there through the years. Their boats took Penny and Shell all around the eastern U.S., Canada and the Caribbean, completing the Great Loop and visiting most of the islands in the Caribbean. Shell and Penny spent countless summers cruising Lake Champlain with their yacht club friends. Shell was also the club’s vice commodore for two years and received the Outstanding Yachtsman of the Year award twice for contributions to the club.

In 1984, after harboring an interest in rental real estate, Shell and son Scott bought their first rental apartment building on Buell Street in Burlington. From that humble beginning, Shell and Scott built an ever-expanding real estate business in both residential and commercial properties. Shell had since retired from the business, while Scott remains at the helm.

Travel was a big part of Shell and Penny’s life. Upon Penny’s retirement from the Vermont Department of Health in 1992, they moved to Saint Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands for four years. Penny worked for the Territorial Government of the USVI, while Shell worked for an upscale marine store, meeting sailors from all over the world. They spent their free time sailing the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. Later, traveling with their six grandchildren became an important part of their lives, and every summer they took them on trips to national parks and overseas, creating memories with the younger generation.

Since 2000, Shell and Penny have made their winter home in Cape Haze in Placida, on the southwest coast of Florida. There they followed the steps of most old sailors and made the leap to powerboats. They joined the Charlotte Harbor Yacht Club in Port Charlotte, Fla., and enjoyed cruising Florida’s waters with new friends.

Shell is survived by his wife, three children and their spouses, and six grandchildren. A celebration of life will occur in the near future. Charitable contributions may be made to Patient Choices Vermont, PO Box 671, Shelburne, VT 05482.

Arrangements are in the care of Elmwood-Meunier Funeral & Cremation Center.

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Obituary: Sheldon Cole Rieley, 1939-2024 (2024)

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