MILLERSBURG, OH (KTVU) - An Ohio father’s dying wish was to walk his daughters down the aisle. All seven of them. It came true two weeks before he died.
Willie Shelton was a U.S Army Veteran whose life was cut short by terminal brain cancer. As he battled, Shelton consistently voiced his desire to walk his daughters down the aisle, his wife said. But they all knew it wasn’t realistic, as time simply would not allow it. So they put together a simulated ceremony.
With last minute help from hospice, David’s Bridal, Taylor Elchert Photography, a local hair studio and others, a plan was put together and executed within days. Shelton had no idea. He was included in the process when asked to give away Emily Flinn – his only married daughter – so she could renew her vows. But little did he know, all seven would be before him in a wedding dress.
“I mean, we couldn’t have given him a better gift,” said Shelton’s wife, Cheryl Shelton.
Three days after the collaboration occurred, Willie Shelton was in his backyard in his dress uniform watching each of his daughters walk out, one at a time, in their wedding gowns. With assistance, Shelton was able to get out of his wheelchair and stand with his daughters. And while the gleam in Shelton’s eyes captivated his daughters, the reality of the situation was bleak.
"It was a little bittersweet,” said his daughter Lindsey Shelton. “It was exciting but you knew why you were doing it."
On Monday, October 16, Willie Shelton died.
His daughters were able to give him a day he wanted more than any other, and all seven will have a piece of that day to bring to their actual wedding. They’ll all have a locket that has a photo of them in a wedding dress with their father and, engraved on the back, the words “A father’s love never ends.”
"He's gonna be right here and he's gonna be watching from above and he's gonna be in that locket walking with you," Cheryl Shelton said.