Sidney Charles Schelling, 1933–2022

Sidney Charles Schelling, Exeter native, family patriarch and owner of the Exeter Mercantile Co., passed away Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022, after a long illness. He was 89 years old. Sidney was born on June 8, 1933 to Ruth Evangeline and Sidney Charles Schelling, Sr.  

He was educated at Exeter Union High School, and graduated from Cal Berkeley where he was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity and the ROTC program. Upon graduation he served as ENS in the US Navy on two Asian tours aboard the USS Lexington aircraft carrier.

Sidney Charles Schelling

Sid then moved to Malibu and worked as a manager at the Sears, Santa Monica store where his customers included Lana Turner, James Arness and Debbie Reynolds. This delighted Sid because he loved the theater, movies and writing plays.

Always a student, he moved to New York City to work for Macy’s and earned an MBA from NYU in 1964.

That very summer, Sid Sr. passed away and Sid Jr. returned to Exeter to help his mother, and began an over 56-year partnership with his beloved brother Bob Schelling, managing the Mercantile; a now 106-year-old family-owned business in the Southern Central San Joaquin Valley, founded by their father. Bob headed the Farm Equipment, International Truck and Service end of the business, while farming his own citrus and walnut farm.  Sid managed the ACE hardware and financial side of the business as Secretary and Treasurer. He traveled to trade shows for years, buying gifts and housewares. To this day, vendors still remember him fondly; speaking about Sid’s witty and quirky antics. Bob’s son, Brian has worked with his father and Uncle Sidney for 35 years and is now the president and CEO of the flagship store while Sid’s sister, Liz, (Aunt Betty) procures for the gift dept.

A lover of the theater and the arts, especially opera, Sidney joined the Wagner Society and fulfilled his dream to attend the Bayreuth Festival performance of Richard Wagner’s, THE RING, a four opera 15-hour event held over 2 days at the family-owned opera venue managed by Wagner’s grandson. There he befriended such Wagnerian singing greats as Hans Hotter and Jess Thomas and their wives and hosted them here in California.  

While in Germany, he decided to take a 6-month sabbatical and studied German language and philosophy at the University of Heidelberg while traveling the country and other parts of Europe.

Sid loved animals, especially his dogs: Max, Bridgette, Lohengrin and Heidegger, for whom he prepared home cooked meals. He loved the teachings of St. Francis and his backyard was filled with neighborhood cats, birds, and even possums who attended a nightly feast, courtesy of Sid.

A man of rapier wit, a story teller, quick to anger and ornery, kind hearted and generous. With a Santa Claus laugh, he was a constant student of history and a thoughtful teacher. An artful debater of religion, politics, art and philosophy, and a shrewd business analyst, he would often close his eyes and speak in paragraphs, explaining “deconstruction,” or the flaws and motivations behind banks, governments, and multi-national corporations.

His family wishes to thank the glorious women who were his devoted caretakers.  Sid was truly blessed by their competence, devotion and immeasurable kindness.

He is survived by his sister Elizabeth and his nephews Eric and Brian Schelling, their wives Holly and Debbi; his nieces, Natalia Berglund and her husband John, Michele Schulz and her husband John; his grandnephews, Josh Schelling, Samuel Schulz, Ethan Schelling, Chet and Wyatt Berglund; and his grandniece, Sarah Schelling. He is also survived by his niece Dr. Christianne Schelling and her husband Andrew Loft, and his longtime friend and companion, Suzanne Nelson of Tulare.

Humble to a fault he asked that there be no funeral; however the family will organize a celebration gathering sometime in November. Sid was laid to rest at the Exeter Cemetery Saturday morning at 10 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the American Parkinson’s Disease Association, the Michael J. Fox Foundation, your local SPCA or the Exeter Dog Park. Arrangements by Smith Family Chapel, Exeter. Online condolences may be sent to

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