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Reuel B Shealy
December 27, 1924 ~ November 6, 2023 (age 98) 98 Years Old
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On November 6, 2023, Reuel Basford Shealy of Ocala, Florida passed away peacefully in his sleep. He was born on December 27, 1924, in Zuber, Florida. He joined four brothers, Nuby, B.F., Arch, and Bert. He would complete the family and remain “the baby,” as his siblings would refer to him even as senior citizens. He accepted Christ as his Savior as a child and was baptized at the Kendrick Baptist church. He was a proud multi-generational Florida boy who was fiercely loyal to his Marion County roots. After his father passed when he was two years old, his mother supported the family by running the Zuber Store. He met Evelyn Marie Odom when he was fourteen while pumping gas for her family car. That fall he started his freshman year of driving into town to attend Ocala High School and they became sweethearts. He was drafted into the Navy when he turned 18 and sent to Oklahoma for training. When he came home on leave, he married Evelyn and she returned with him to Atlantic City, New Jersey where he would be stationed until the end of WWII. He was welcomed home to Ocala by the birth of his daughter Julia Marie. The little family lived with Evelyn’s parents until the house they were building on Joy Avenue (NE 35th St.) was completed. They moved into their new home and were soon joined by a son, Reuel Preston. After serving his time in the Navy, he was employed at Fremac’s Men Store on the downtown square. His father-in-law, wanting a more lucrative profession for Reuel, taught him to be a mason and helped him start his own business.
By his mid-twenties he had been in the Navy, got married, had two children, started his own business, and built a home which he and Evelyn had fully paid for without a mortgage.
He was a very successful contractor, and his fireplaces are still providing heat in many of Ocala’s homes. His property on 35th street provided space for a small farm, which provided food for his family. Together, he and Evelyn raised all their meat, milk, butter, and vegetables giving them a sustainable lifestyle on their small homestead. He never met a stranger and had a genuine interest in everyone he knew. His friends became family and family were friends. He loved to socialize and was always inclusive. Generous and kind, his door was always open, both figuratively and literally. Anyone stopping by was asked to stay and have something to eat. The death of his beloved Evelyn in 2002 did not stop him from his gracious generosity, he continued to make and take meals to family and friends.
He loved to hunt and fish, especially with his brother-in-law Jack who was married to Evelyn’s sister. They spent many happy hours roaming the woods with their birddogs searching for the elusive quail. High on his list of favorites were cook outs where sometimes the meal was even some exotic animal killed while hunting.
His other favorite fall activity was watching his Gators play football. He had season tickets and hardly ever missed a game. Win or lose he never wavered in his loyalty. Go Gators!
One of his greatest joys was having grandchildren, Sterling, Vanessa, Jason, and Jared grew-up knowing they were loved by this very special man. He was a father and grandfather who made time for them by including them in his daily activities. He never missed a game if one of his kids was involved.
His beloved dogs were constantly at his side. The last two, Val and Bonnie were Australian Shepherds who gave him companionship and devotion, especially after Evelyn passed away. He took them everywhere and loved them dearly.
He is preceded in death, by wife Evelyn and son Preston. He is survived, by daughter Marie Shealy Tillis, grandchildren; Sterling Shealy, Vanessa Tillis Baxley, Jason Shealy, Jared Shealy; great-grandchildren, Brittany, Madison, Blaine, Dylan, Ava, Nash, Lincoln, and Great-Great grandson, Kasen.