BKR Remembers Life of Sheldon B. Webster

Published on April 08, 2022

Sheldon B. Webster

Sheldon Burton Webster, Writer and Adventurer Dies at 77.

After surviving a near-fatal storm on Alaska’s Mt. McKinley in 1997, Sheldon Webster escaped death again when his bush plane stalled on takeoff on the Kahiltna Glacier. These were two near fatal encounters Webster experienced in a lifetime of travel and adventure. He said on his 77th  birthday, “I am a fortunate having escaped The Grim Reaper to live this long and happy life.”

His father Burt Webster was the Noxubee Wildlife Refuge manager, his mother, Marjorie Stair, a piano teacher in a home without electricity in rural Mississippi. His only regrets in life were not becoming an Eagle Scout and serving our county in the Vietnam War.

His cause of death on Tuesday, the 5th of April 2022 was from living too long and was confirmed by his son, Anthony Parrish Webster, of Birmingham, Alabama. 

Sheldon, known as ‘Willie Wild,’ became a pulp-wood cutter at age 13 on Burton Place, his writer’s retreat in Oktoc, Mississippi. It was here that he did some of his most prolific writing.  His avocation was hunting wild turkey and ducks and entertaining guests as an avid Mississippi State fan. 

With Divine intervention Sheldon began construction in 2019 on Burton Place Veterans Chapel and Library, a spiritual and educational retreat for Gold Star families and veterans. Nucor Steel donated the Gold Star Monument honoring, “those who gave and those who gave all in service of their nation.” Bishop Presley Hutchins said, “Sheldon vision was a revelation that spread across Mississippi and beyond.” Webster wrote, Burton Place Veterans Chapel and Library to tell the story.

Mr. Webster was no typical CPA. Many considered him an adrenaline-junkie who in his lifetime climbed 8 major mountains, traveled the 7 continents and sailed the world’s oceans. In his time he visited 150 countries earning membership in the Travelers’ Century Club. He traveled the 50 United States and visited most major cities in the world.

The 1966 Mississippi State University graduate was commissioned in the Army of the United States rising to the rank of captain and stationed on the East German border as a Cold War warrior. In 2002 he attended the United States Army War College National Defense Conference at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania as a civilian counsel to the Army. Webster served as the treasurer of the National Whitetail Warrior Project, Inc. whose clients are 50% disabled Veterans awarded Purple Hearts who are taken afield.  He took great pride in his membership in the Society of the Revolution with his lineage to Caleb Webster, a Continental Army soldier and grandson of Secretary of State, Daniel Webster. 

Webster served on Alabama Writer’s Forum and assisted others in writing their memoirs as he did in, 2013: Memoirs of a Writer. The author anonymously donated his net royalties to the International Literacy Foundation. “If people are taught to read, they can educate themselves and escape exploitation,” he was quoted by a New York reporter reviewing his Wall Street novel, Voyage of the Encounter.

Webster stared down the barrel of AK-47s while on assignment in Columbia, Guatemala and Cambodia. When asked why he took such risk, he replied, “I never write about a place unless I get into the lives and minds of the people so I can write truly.”

Mr. Webster authored 7 books, mostly historical fiction, while rewriting America’s post-WWII history. Through fictional characters intertwining with historical people, dark chapters of the United States Government were revealed so the Vietnam, Iraq and Afghan Wars are not repeated.

Sheldon’s exceptionally adventurous life began on August 6, 1944 in Norton, Virginia while Burt Webster was a Navy corpsman in the Pacific with the 3rd Marines. His first two years were in his grandfathers’ home and he later inherited his Louisville & Northwester Railroad Elgin watch sparking his love for the rails. He rode the world’s luxury trains of Europe, India and Australia as well as trains from hell in Africa, China, the Middle East and Central Asia. He was a frequent Amtrak passenger and proposed on the Venice Simplon-Orient Express to his wife, Susan whom he married in 1987.

In his yet to be published book, Tales from the World’s Rails, he included his journey on the Trans-Mongolian Express from St. Petersburg to Shanghai, China. He once again escaped the Grim Reaper after missing the Bangkok to Singapore Express whose 200 passengers perished in a typhoon on November 24, 1988.  While researching Golden Triangle opium in Burma, Webster became stranded when his up-train from Yangon to Mandalay was delayed by a train derailment. In 2010 he missed his Tanzar/Zambezi train connection in Lusaka, Zambia and Webster recalled, “This was the most terrifying event in my life crossing the Zambezi River Gorge Bridge on the Zimbabwe/Zambia border on a pitch-black night in a time of civil strife.”

Mr. Webster started his accounting career in Birmingham, Alabama with an international accounting firm. Four years later, with no clients and no money, he founded his own firm which merged into Borland Benefield CPAs, Alabama’s oldest accounting firm founded in 1922. He retired in 2010 as Chairman and major shareholder. During this time he was a founder of BKR International, an international accounting and consulting affiliation headquartered in New York with offices in 80 countries and 320 cities and was elected Chairman in 2002.

Mr. Webster was recruiting a BKR member in narc-ravaged Columbia and made December 20, 1995 reservations on American Airlines Flight 965 from Miami to Cali.  At the last minute he changed his reservations and Flight 965 crashed into a Columbian mountain killing 159 passengers and crewmen with four survivors. This is yet another example of Webster’s near encounter with the Grim Reaper. 

Sheldon Webster was a Methodist who attended church each Sunday. He believed in predestination whereby the Almighty determines ones time on earth. “Life is a series of choices; some good, many bad, with a lot of luck come into play. Some people take advantage of luck while most squander it for fear of taking risk.”  

Webster was a Paul Harris Fellow Rotarian and member of American Legion. He was a founder of the Alabama Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation. As a civic leader and conservationist, he served on numerous boards; unsuccessfully ran for public office once which gave him the insight of politicians selling their souls to special interest.

Mr. Webster was married twice, the first ending in divorce. He is survived by his wife Susan of 35 years, a son, Anthony Parrish Webster and twin granddaughters, Caroline and Emily Webster, three step-children and four step-grandchildren, and a brother, Stuart Webster of Vicksburg, wife Debby, and four nephews.

Friends are cordially invited to the visitation on Wednesday, the 13th of April, from five o’clock in the afternoon until seven o’clock in the evening at Ridout’s Valley Chapel located at 1800 Oxmoor Road, Homewood, Alabama 35209.  Funeral services will commence at eleven o’clock in the morning on Thursday, the 14th of April, at Ridout’s Valley Chapel with Bishop Presley Hutchens presiding.  Another Funeral service for Mr. Webster will be conducted at two o’clock in the afternoon on Friday, the 15th of April, at Burton Place Veterans Chapel located at 1000 John Logan Road, Oktoc, Mississippi with Bishop Presley Hutchens presiding. A Military Burial will follow at his private cemetery atop Mount Burton.  Family and guests are invited to attend a Celebration of Life reception afterwards.

Journalist Robert Dowling wrote of his mountain climbing partner, “You’ll often hear someone say they love a place so much they want to be buried there. What is more fitting than to lodge your soul in the land that created you and is placed in trust for future generations to enjoy?”

The family requests with gratitude that memorials honoring the life of Mr. Webster be directed to Burton Place, LLC located at 1000 John Logan Road, Starkville, Mississippi 39759.  Services in Alabama are under the direction of Ridout’s Valley Chapel (205-879-3401) in Homewood, Alabama.  Services in Mississippi are under the direction of Welch Funeral Home (662-323-5905) in Starkville, Mississippi.