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Unearthing artifacts of his father's service, Shelton finds unique slices of history

Marcus Shelton holds up memorial discs given to his father who was assigned to John F. Kennedy’s grave site. The box on the right contains his father’s fingerprint analysis tools from his work with the FBI. All of these artifacts were buried in records until he unearthed them after his father’s death.   - Ross Coyle/Kent Reporter
Marcus Shelton holds up memorial discs given to his father who was assigned to John F. Kennedy’s grave site. The box on the right contains his father’s fingerprint analysis tools from his work with the FBI. All of these artifacts were buried in records until he unearthed them after his father’s death.
— image credit: Ross Coyle/Kent Reporter

Despite having passed away six years ago, Thomas Shelton still teaches his son, Marcus, about his accomplishments in life.

While going through his father's possessions, the 55-year-old concert promoter and Army veteran discovered a number of artifacts and memorabilia from his father's life and work, including signed letters by J. Edgar Hoover, Kennedy memorial plates and an original FBI fingerprint analysis kit from the 1960s.

Thomas Shelton served 10 years in the Air Force as an MP before changing careers to become one of the first FBI fingerprint analysts.

After JFK's assassination in 1963, he was posted to the gravesite at the special request of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. While on site, he took several photos and posted them in a personal photo album which has survived until today.

It was dumb luck that his son found the materials when he did, while going through his father's belongings.

"They don't realize later on down the road," Marcus said, "that you got a lot of history on your hands."

These major events occurred when Marcus was only 4 years old, and afterward his father rarely spoke of them. Discovering the artifacts gave Marcus a better understanding not only of his parents, but his place in the world as a child.

"You don't realize 'till you get older that you were involved in this history," Marcus said.

While he is uncertain exactly what he'll do with the artifacts, Marcus said that they'll stay in the family. He's received offers from organizations to buy them but has turned them down.

"They're part of the family legacy," he said with a laugh.

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