Obituary of Ronald K. Shelp

August 15, 2021

Ronald K. Shelp, 79, passed away on August 15th, 2021, surrounded by family at his home in Manhattan.

Ronald was born September 29th, 1941, in Cartersville, GA, to Willie and Clarence Mulkey. He later took his stepfather Sherwood's surname, Shelp.

Driven to succeed, Ronald excelled academically, receiving degrees from the University of Georgia and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and pursuing a doctoral degree from the London School of Economics, which went on to form the basis for his first book, Beyond Industrialization: Ascendancy of the Global Service Economy.

Ronald had a long and varied career, starting as a debt collector, traveling fruitcake salesman, and FBI typist. He would go on to become the youngest vice-President at the insurance giant AIG at age 32, a position which enabled him to travel across the world, particularly to South and Central America where he became fluent in Spanish. He went on to join the Celanese Corporation as Corporate Vice President, and served simultaneously as CEO and President of the New York City Partnership (now Partnership for New York City) and the New York Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Ronald would later author Fallen Giant: The Amazing Story of Hank Greenberg and the History of AIG.

Ronald, together with his wife of 39 years, June, would go on to collect an extensive collection of art from the American South. The collection has been on a national exhibition tour and is the subject of the book Testimony: Vernacular Art of the African-American South: The Ronald and June Shelp Collection.

Ronald was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and served on the boards of various organizations, including the American Folk Art Museum, the University of Georgia School of Public and International Affairs, and the Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia.

Ronald is survived by his wife, June, and their two sons, Kent and Russell.

A memorial service will be held at a later date. For information or to participate in the memorial, emails to are encouraged.

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