Forest Shely

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Forest Franklin Shely​

(Kentucky physician and Campbellsville University trustee, 1954-2010)

Forest Shely.jpg
Died August 30, 2010 (aged 86) ​
Campbellsville, Taylor County, Kentucky ​
Political Party Republican[1]
Spouse Roberta Hale Shely (married 1947–2006, her death)

Bill Shely
​ Jacque S. Blackwelder
​ Deborah S. Edwards
​ Karen S. McMahan
​ Carla S. Corbin
​ Eight grandchildren​
Forest Wyatt and Blance Brown Shely
Alma mater:
Campbellsville University
​ Georgetown College (Kentucky)
​ Washington and Jefferson College
Yale University
​ University of Louisville Health Sciences Center​

Religion Southern Baptist

Forest Franklin Shely (June 20, 1924 – August 30, 2010) was a physician from Campbellsville in Taylor County in central Kentucky, who served for fifty-six years as a trustee of the Southern Baptist-affiliated Campbellsville University, formerly Campbellsville College.​


Shely (pronounced SHE LEE) was the older of two sons born to Forest Wyatt Shely (1901–1976), a graduate of Berea College, a schoolteacher and a Southern Baptist layman, and the former Blanche Brown in Lawrenceburg in Anderson County near the capital city of Frankfort, Kentucky. Wyatt Shely, as he was known, wrote a column for The Anderson News as well as several church histories. The younger Shely son, Robert Edward Shely, Forest Shely's brother, was born in 1930 and died in 1955, leaving behind a young widow and a son, Brent Shely, later Brent Owen of Williamsburg, Virginia.[2] Forest Shely graduated in 1941 from Western High School in Sinai, also in Anderson County, where his father was on the faculty.[3]

Shely attended Campbellsville University, then known as Campbellsville Junior College, from 1941 to 1943, at which he was named the "Best All-Around Student."[4] He served in the United States Army during World War II.[2]

He then continued his studies at Georgetown College, a small Baptist institution in Georgetown] Kentucky, Washington and Jefferson College in Washington, Pennsylvania.[4] and Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, from which he graduated in 1946. From 1946 to 1947, Shely attended Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1949, he graduated from the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center in Louisville, Kentucky.[5] He interned from 1949 to 1950 at Good Samaritan Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky.[4]

Medical career

Shely was a giant figure in Taylor County and a highly respected physician with wide influence in health care in the Lake Cumberland Area Development District.[6]

In 1950, Shely established his initial practice in Louisa in Lawrence County in far eastern Kentucky. In 1963, he returned to Campbellsville, where he had begun college twelve years earlier, to open his medical practice, which he maintained there until his retirement in 1997.[5]

Shely was the medical director of several area nursing homes and the first administrator of Taylor County Hospital. He served as chairman of both the Taylor County and Lake Cumberland district boards of health. He was a member of the Taylor County Mental Health Board, Taylor County Public Library Board, and the Campbellsville-Taylor County Rescue Advisory Board.[2]​ ​

Civic leadership

​ Shely was chairman of the board of Citizens Bank and Trust Company in Campbellsville. He was a member and past president of Campbellsville Rotary International. He was also a half-century member of Gideons International.[2] In 2003, Shely was named one of the first two recipients of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award]] given for community service by Campbellsville University.[5]

Shely served from 1954 until his death on the Campbellsville University board, including the longest period as chairman of any other member of the body. William Randolph Davenport, the president of the previously named Campbellsville College from 1969 to 1988, said that Dr. Shely's "knowledge of our operations, insights, wisdom, and guidance were invaluable – nothing short of God's gifts to me through those many years. Only God knows fully the value and eternal effects of his contributions to, and influence on, our university."[7]

Davenport's successor as president, Kenneth W. Winters, a former member of the Kentucky State Senate, recalls Shely as "a true mentor to me. He became our family physician and a dear friend. Seldom do you find a person so dedicated to an institution as Dr. Shely was to Campbellsville University.[7] Current CU president Michael V. Carter similarly noted that Shely provided "skilled medical care to thousands of people in this community and region, and his numerous contributions have been inestimable in value and impact."[7]

Family and death

On April 6, 1947, Shely married the former Roberta "Bobbie" Hale (September 30, 1922 – February 23, 2006), a native of Springfield, Kentucky, and a 1942 graduate of Campbellsville University.[3] In 1988, Shely and his wife received Distinguished Service awards from CU.[7] The Shelys had a son, Bill Shely and wife, Cathy, of Morehead, Kentucky, and four daughters, Jacque Blackwelder and husband, Denis of Old Hickory, Tennessee, Deborah S. Edwards of Lexington, and, from Campbellsville, Karen S. McMahan and Carla S. Corbin and husband, Dale Corbin. There were also seven living grandchildren and one deceased.[2]

Shely died in Campbellsville of cardiovascular disease at the age of eighty-six. Services were held at his home church, Campbellsville Baptist Church, where he was a deacon and Sunday school teacher for many years. Forest and Bobbie Shely are interred at Brookside Cemetery in Campbellsville.[2]


  1. Campbellsville, KY: Political Contributions by Individuals. Retrieved on October 16, 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Dr. Forest F. Shely, Age 86. Retrieved on October 16, 2019.
  3. 3.0 3.1 (1991) Wyatt Shely: Anderson County, Kentucky. Paducah, Kentucky: Turner Publishing Co.. Retrieved on October 16, 2019. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 William Lynwood Montell. Tales from Kentucky Doctors. Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky. Retrieved on June 30, 2011; no longer on-line. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Joan C. McKinney. Campbellsville University presents first Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards. Campbellsville University. Retrieved on June 30, 2011; no longer on-line.
  6. Obituary: Dr. Forest F. Shely, 86, Taylor Co., KY. Columbia Magazine. Retrieved on October 16, 2019.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Joan C. McKinney, "Campbellsville University Board of Trustee member since 1954, Dr. Forest F. Shely dies," The Campbellsvillian: The Magazine for Alumni and Friends of Campbellsville University, Vol. 9, No. 2 (November 2010), p. 12.

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