It is with a heavy heart that the City of Folsom announces the passing of longtime Folsom City Councilmember and Vice Mayor Ernie Sheldon.
Sheldon, 86, in his third four-year term on the Folsom City Council, died Friday at his home from cancer.
Sheldon is a 35-year resident of Folsom who is recognized for his long-term service to the community. He has served on the Folsom City Council since 2008. Prior to his election to the City Council, Ernie served on the Folsom Parks & Recreation Commission for two decades.
“The city, community, and City Council are in mourning over the death of Vice Mayor Ernie Sheldon, a life-long public servant and community advocate who devoted his entire life to serving others,” said Mayor Sarah Aquino. “The imprint of his life’s work can be felt throughout Folsom – in our parks, trails, recreational amenities, and our beloved Veterans Day parade. Ernie leaves behind a legacy that inspires us all to fulfill his mission of providing the highest quality service to the Folsom community.”
“We are heartbroken about the passing of our longtime friend and colleague Ernie Sheldon,” said City Manager Elaine Andersen. “Ernie was a man dedicated to public service. He fought for our country and served our great city with dedication and passion. I will always treasure his friendship and honor his lifelong commitment to serving others. Ernie’s death is a tremendous loss for our community, but he leaves an enormously powerful and lasting legacy that will live on for generations to come.”
A retired lieutenant colonel, Sheldon moved to Folsom in 1985 after 33 years of service with the U.S. Air Force. Folsom had four parks when Ernie arrived, all built by community civic organizations. Due to Sheldon’s vision, leadership, and advocacy, Folsom has 48 parks and numerous recreational facilities. He wrote Folsom’s first parks master plan and was instrumental in establishing the Folsom Aquatic Center, Folsom Sports Complex, and Senior and Arts Center. Ernie also served on the City's Planning Commission for two years and the Library Commission for 18 months. He was one of the original directors of the Friends of the Folsom Library and played a key role in identifying City Lions Park as the site for the Folsom Public Library Georgia Murray building.
The City of Folsom honored Ernie for his outstanding dedication to Folsom parks by naming the Ernie Sheldon Park in his honor. Ernie’s accomplishments were also recognized in 2002 when he was named California’s Outstanding Park Commissioner. The California Park & Recreation Society recently honored Sheldon with the Award of Excellence: Champion of the Community, and the California Association of Park & Recreation Commissioners and Board Members presented Sheldon with the President’s Award, a seldom-presented award bestowed upon an individual who demonstrates exceptional service and leadership in parks and recreation programs and activities.
Prior to his many years as a member of the Folsom City Council, Ernie served 33 years in the U.S. Air Force. He retired as a much-decorated lieutenant colonel, with a Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, and an Air Force Commendation Medal with five clusters. Ernie led the effort to expand Folsom’s Veterans Day Parade, making it one of the largest in the region. He also spearheaded the planning, construction, and design of the city’s Veterans Memorial in City Lions Park, behind the library.
Sheldon is survived by his son Ernie Sheldon, Jr.; daughter Annette Wamser; son-in-law Ed Wamser; grandchildren Jessica Morlet (and her husband Eddie Morlet), Stephanie Guditus, and Kyle Wamser; and great grandson Rio Mayne Morlet.
The City of Folsom has ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff until his interment. Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.