Dr. Larry W. Sheffield, 77, local historian and author of Images of America: Colton and David Douty Colton died peacefully after battling cancer on January 7, 2017 in Sacramento with family members at his side.
Dr. Sheffield served his community as a local historian, author and lecturer which reflected his deep love for Colton and its captivating origins. Prior to his work with the Colton Area Museum Association and San Bernardino Historical Society, he worked in the mental health field with the developmentally disabled, in addiction counseling, and as a teacher and professor. His life was one of dedication to others.
Larry Wendell Sheffield was born in Payson, Utah on January 21, 1939 to Wendell Hatch Sheffield and Rae Bissell Sheffield. He served in the United States Army and Army Reserve from 1957- 1965. In 1963, he graduated from the University of Utah with a Bachelor of Science degree and a teaching certificate in history. He worked as a social studies teacher at Granger High School in Salt Lake City from 1963-64. From 1965-68, he was a caseworker for the Utah State Department of Public Welfare. He earned his Master of Social Work degree as a member of Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Utah in 1970.
Relocating to California in 1970 with his family, he worked as a psychiatric social worker for the California State Department of Mental Hygiene. In 1972, he accepted a position as Senior Counselor with Inland Counties Regional Center. He continued for more than twenty years with the Regional Center as a Community Liaison and Staff Psychologist. He earned his Doctor of Philosophy degree in clinical psychology from the California Graduate Institute in 1981 and continued with the Regional Center to work with the accused and incarcerated to determine competency to stand trial.
Dr. Sheffield retired from the Regional Center in 1993. He went on to work as a professor and Interim Director of Social Work at Loma Linda University, La Sierra Campus and San Bernardino Valley College. As an avid reader of historical authors and biographies, he joined the San Bernardino Historical Society where he authored articles for the Society’s publication, “The Odyssey.” Relocating to Colton, he chronicled and published the story of Colton’s namesake, David Douty Colton. He wrote a series of history articles for The Colton City News and The San Bernardino County Sun.
In 2004, while serving as president of the Colton Area Museum Association and Historical Society, Arcadia Publishing invited Dr. Sheffield to compile a book containing photographs and details about Colton’s history for their “Images of America” series. The book was well-received among Colton residents, officials and historians. Serving on the board of the Colton Area Museum forged many rewarding friendships that endured for the rest of his life. Dr. Sheffield especially enjoyed spirited discussions about history and politics among friends. He was an intellectual with a broad appreciation of diversity and culture. He explored the fine arts, dabbling in woodworking, needlework, painting and design.
Survivors include his daughters Melissa Lawson (Michael) of Fair Oaks, CA; Sara Sheffield of Upland, two grandchildren Lauren Pitman of Eastvale and Jacob Pitman of Sacramento; a sister, Carolyn Willard of Dallas, TX. Preceding him in death are his parents Wendell and Rae Sheffield of Salt Lake City, Utah and ex-wife Caroline Bellows Sheffield of Upland. A Celebration of Life is scheduled for Thursday, February 16 at Hermosa Gardens Cemetery in the Mission Chapel at 2:30 p.m. Feel free to bring your own prepared remarks. In lieu of flowers, send memorial contributions to Cancer Research Institute, 55 Broadway, Suite 1802, New York, NY 10006 or the Colton Area Museum Association c/o Mike Murphy P.O. Box Colton, CA 92324.
Larry W. Sheffield, a contributor to both The Sun and The Colton City News, has collected more than 200 historic photographs, many from the archives of the Colton Area Museum Association, an organization he currently (2004) serves as president. This is his third book on the history of Colton and the only published collection of historic images devoted exclusively to the city.