- The Betheaden Road: Stories by Sheldon B. Webster (1994)
- The Voyage of the Encounter (1998)
- The House of Sugar (2003)
- House of Deception: The CIA’s Secret Opium War and Assassination of JFK (2006)
- Memoirs of a Writer – A Year of Travel, Interviews and Reflections on Life (2013)
by Kathleen Sui (SHS) 1997
Sheldon Burton Webster was born on August 6, 1944, in Wise County, Virginia. His parents’ names were Burton and Marjory Webster. His mother was a musician, and his dad was a photographer. Sheldon Webster moved to Mississippi from Virginia in 1948 when he was four years old. As a child in Mississippi, he lived in the Noxubee Wildlife Refuge near Starkville, Mississippi, where his nearest playmate was seven miles away from his house. He attended Starkville Public Schools, including John W. Overstreet Elementary School and Starkville High School. While he was in high school, he made mostly B’s but a few A’s and C’s. He was also voted the most handsome in his senior class. Overall, Webster says he was an average student in high school. (Box) Sheldon Webster played on Starkville High School’s football team as a senior. Today he is still a big Mississippi State football fan. In fact, he has attended sixty-three consecutive MSU football games (Nelson) at the time of this writing. Upon graduation from Starkville High School in 1962, Sheldon Webster entered Mississippi State University where he majored in accounting. Once Webster was in college, he applied himself to studying. He made the Dean’s List every quarter except once, and then he was on the President’s List. He graduated from Mississippi State University in 1966. (Webster). Later, he served two years as an army officer in West Germany.
After Sheldon Webster graduated from college and after his stint in the army, he started his career in the business world. At first he worked with the International Firm of Deloitte Haskins & Sells in Birmingham; (Nelson); then he opened up his own practice which merged with Borland Benefield CPA in 1977. Sheldon Webster now serves as the Executive Vice President. He is also the director of membership development for BKR International, an international affiliation of accounting firms (Biography). Interestingly, Sheldon Webster’s position in BKR has given him many opportunities to travel all over the world. In fact, he has been to over seventy foreign countries. Currently (May, 2000) he is in China on business. This is his third time there. In 1998, Webster took the Trans-Mongolian Express from Moscow to Beijing, China. Riding trains is one of his passions. Last year, he was in the Philippines when some serious flooding occurred (Webster).
Sheldon Webster’s first published book is called The Betheaden Road, a collection of Mississippi short stories which was published by a nonprofit foundation called Conservatory of American Letters in 1994. His next book The Voyage of the Encounter was published by Rutledge Books of Danbury, Connecticut in December of 1998. (Mississippi State Alumnus Magazine, 34) His third book, The House of Sugar, was published in 2003. The work talks about WWII and the mafia’s role in Kennedy’s assassination. House of Deception: The CIA’s Secret Opium War and Assassination of JFK (2006) and Memoirs of a Writer – A Year of Travel, Interviews and Reflections on Life (2013) are his most recent works.
In addition to writing, Sheldon Webster enjoys sailing; and in May of 1988, Sheldon was a member of the five man crew of the Encounter. The Encounter was struck by fierce storm near Bermuda. It lost the radar deflector and engine, and Sheldon had a near death experience when the Encounter and he were struck by lightning.
Sheldon Webster is also a mountain climber; he has climbed eight of the world’s major mountains, including three of the world’s seven highest summits. He nearly died in 1997 while on an expedition on Mount McKinley (Biography).
Another interest of Webster’s is hunting.. He loves to go bear hunting with his son Parrish in Alaska and Canada, but he also loves to hunt wild turkey in Alabama. As a sportsman, Webster believes we should preserve the wild turkeys. He serves on the Alabama Board of Directors of the National Wild Turkey Federation, which raised $137,000 in 1991 (Nelson).
In conclusion, Sheldon Webster is a successful businessman with many interests such as traveling, hunting, climbing and sailing. He enjoys the challenges of writing ,and he encourages others to start writing fiction too (Interview).
Sheldon Webster: A Biography
By Heath Hilton (SHS) 1997
Sheldon Burton Webster is a Mississippi writer. He is not a particularly well-known writer at this time because he has only published one book. (See update above). Webster enjoys writing, and he is very dedicated to it. He has the ability and the chance to become a famous Mississippi writer.
Webster was born during World War II on August 6, 1944, in the Appalachian Mountains of Norton, Virginia. Raised mostly in Mississippi, he attended Starkville public schools in Starkville, Mississippi. and graduated from Starkville High School in 1962. In 1966, Webster received a Bachelor of Science Degree in accounting at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Mississippi.
In June of 1966, Webster started his public accounting career with the International Firm of Deloitte Haskins and Sells in Birmingham, Alabama. Then in 1967, he served two years as an Army Finance Officer for the United States Army in Germany. After being discharged from the army, he rejoined Haskins and Sells National Accounting Firm as a Certified Public Accountant. In 1977, the accounting firm that he had started in 1973 merged into his current firm, Borland Benefield Crawford and Webster, which is one of the oldest firms in Alabama. Webster serves as the firm’s Executive Vice President and also as the Director of Membership Development for BKR International, a national and international affiliation of 48 firms for which he is responsible for recruiting firms worldwide.
Along with all his accounting work, Webster likes the sport, or hobby, of hunting. Pheasants, quails, waterfowl, and wild turkeys are mainly the animals that he hunts now. At one time he hunted bear with his son. The sport of hunting bear has taken Webster to Alaska, Canada, and to the Bitterroot Mountains of Idaho. Webster is active in many wildlife conservation activities, which includes serving on the Board of the Alabama Wild Turkey Federation. Climbing mountains, riding trains, adventure, and seeing the world are other outdoor hobbies of Webster. In May of 1988, Webster was a member of the five man crew on the Encounter, which nearly sunk in a huge storm while crossing the Atlantic Ocean. His first novel is based on this experience, and it is going to be called The Voyage of the Encounter. In June of 1992, Webster was in Singapore on business. He flew to Borneo and climbed Mount Kenebula, which is the highest mountain in Southeastern Asia.
He is currently married to his second wife, Susan, and she is the one to whom he dedicated his first book. His first book, The Betheaden Road, marked his entry into the literary world in 1994. This book is a collection of short stories about rural Mississippi, and it reflects on how Mississippi has changed. Sheldon loves to write, and he has since published The House of Sugar (2003), House of Deception: The CIA’s Secret Opium War and Assassination of JFK (2006), and Memoirs of a Writer – A Year of Travel, Interviews and Reflections on Life (2013) Sheldon Webster is a very active person who enjoys life. He is very dedicated to writing literature, he enjoys it more than anything else. One day he will be a famous Mississippi writer.
A Review of The Voyage of the Encounter
by Kathleen Sui (SHS) 1997
The Voyage of the Encounter is Sheldon Webster’s second published book but his first novel. This novel is fiction, but some of things that are described in the book are based on Sheldon Webster’s personal experiences. It concentrates on the life of Peter Slade, a top executive from Wall Street, whose life is filled with adventures and romance.
In the beginning of the book, Peter Slade is arrested by a Securities and Exchange Commission agent named Flynn O’Grady for inside trading in Wall Street. Peter Slade goes to his lawyer and best friend John Moffet for help, but he does not tell John that he is indeed guilty. John successfully defends Peter in court and gets him a deal with the government. The deal allows Peter to be free from any charges as long as he agrees to work as an undercover agent for the next five years and participate in one assignment. During the next four years, Peter marries a lovely woman named Charlotte and becomes the owner of the Stone Bridge Inn. Just when Peter is forgetting about his past, the government tells Peter to go on an assignment to Bermuda on a sailboat called the Encounter. The Encounter is in a ocean race with John Moffet, his lawyer and friend, as the captain and there are some very interesting crew members. During the race, Captain John Moffet risks his crew’s lives as they nearly get run down by an Iranian tanker just because Moffet wants the trophy so badly. The story shows how sometimes people can put pride and greed before human life. The crew members then makes the tough decision of not telling they cheated during the race, and they win the trophy. After Peter arrives in Bermuda, he meets his partner for the assignment –Carolina Barrington. Carolina Barrington is a beautiful woman who was the head of an escort ring and who also has made a deal with the government just like Peter did. She is forced to blackmail Paul Ferris, the managing director of Bank of Bermuda Limited. Bermuda Limited is where Peter has his secret account with millions of dollars in it. No one expects Paul to commit suicide when faced with a choice of being blackmailed or giving out the names of American customers.
While Peter is in Bermuda, Charlotte has an affair and wants to divorce Peter as well as to fire him from his position in the Stone Bridge Inn. Peter and John, along with three other crew members, encounter a terrible storm in the sea while trying to sail back. The Encounter loses its radar reflector and faces many problems in the storm. As the ship is caught in the storm, Peter, the cheat and the liar, volunteers to do the most dangerous thing, proving that no human being is completely bad or evil. During the storm, everyone knows they could die any minute, but they all fight bravely with the desire to survive. Yet, no matter how courageous they are they appear insignificant and helpless when compared to the power of nature. Lightning strikes Peter while he is on the boat, and he comes very close to death. Then Do Person, the homosexual physician that Peter has hated from the beginning, saves Peter’s life. Do Persona’s actions change Peter’s view about the Do, and Peter thanks Do for saving his life. After the difficult trip at sea, the Encounter finally makes it back to shore. After Peter comes home, he discovers the sad news that his wife Charlotte has died after she fell down the stairs and his long time loyal friend George has also died in the hospital.
At the end of the story, O’Grady, the agent who arrested Peter, ironically dies in a fire. O’Grady has hated Peter with all his heart because Peter had had an affair with his wife. O’Grady’s whole purpose in life after that was to nail Peter Slide and make Peter suffer. That deep hatred drove O’Grady to such extremes at times that he lost his job and eventually his life. Peter is still living single with millions and decides to go back to Bermuda and check out his secret account and start another adventure. It makes the reader wonder what happens next.
The Voyage of the Encounter is a great book for people who love sailing because it includes many detailed description of the ocean race based on the writer’s experience. It is also excellent for people who enjoy reading portrayals of nature. However, the book does include several sexual scenes which are not appropriate for younger readers.
A Review of Betheaden Road
by Heath Hilton (SHS)
The Betheaden Road, a book of short stories by Sheldon B. Webster, is a sensational fiction book of related stories that take place in imaginary Moxihatchie County, Mississippi. By reflecting the changes in Southern living from the 1950’s to the 1990’s, these stories represent the lives of people in the rural Locofoma community.
The collection of fourteen short stories has a cast of characters who live along the Betheaden Road. They go to Nick Stlyes’ general store and post office where they are either entertained or insulted by Nick, who is the store manager. Nick is also known as the “Red Neck Philosopher” because he applies Greek philosophy, which he learned while in jail in the U.S. Navy brig in Athens, to his customers’ lives. These stories deal with a range of topics such as suicide, murder, love, lust, ignorance, and even religion.
One short story that left a lasting impression is “Only Medals,” which deals with suicide and lust. This story takes place in Bevels Hill, Mississippi, in July of 1959. Just like every other short story in this book, “Only Medals” is told in the third person point of view, but there is a lot of dialogue. This stories have many themes, and “Only Medals” has two very strong and meaningful ones. One theme is that someone can have a lot of things that you would love to have, yet they still don’t enjoy life. In the story Plummer, who was known throughout the community because he had received a lot of medals in the army and who was looked upon highly by the other veterans and friends, is not happy; and he commits suicide. Before he kills himself, he offers Buck Winslow, his friend from the army, all of his medals. This offering foreshadows his suicide. He is offering to give away something that is really important that no one else has, but which he himself will no longer need. Another theme in the story is that some people care only about themselves. For example, the character Dave Stergen, a young boy of fourteen, was going to the Neshoba County Indian Fair until he learns of Plummer’s death. He had hoped to pick up a prostitute and lose his virginity. Even though one of his best friends is dead, all he thinks about is going to get a girl for ten dollars at the fair. Even continued at his friend’s funeral, young Dave thinks to himself, “Can’t believe we aren’t going.” This book has many important themes and deals with issues that still exist in today’s society. It has themes that deal with the changes in Mississippi.
The Betheaden Road is exciting and interesting because, along with the many themes, there are many different conflicts. The short story “Only Medals” illustrates man vs. himself as Dave struggles with growing up and his desire to lose his virginity. Plummer also struggles against himself but also against society. Conflicts in the other thirteen short stories will entertain you to the point that you will not want to quit reading. “Colored TV,” “Nick’s Alligator ,”Crime Shore Don’t Pay,” “Coffee Cup Romance,” and “Snake Bit” are just a few of the other stories.
In conclusion, I enjoyed reading this book of short stories. It was entertaining because I never knew what was going to happen. Sheldon Webster, who I am proud to have had the opportunity to talk to, is a talented Mississippi writer who will one day be famous for his literature. I look forward to reading any books or novels that he writes in the future.
by Kathleen Sui (SHS)
1. When were your born? Where were you born?
I was born on August 6th, 1944, Wise County, Virginia.
2. What are your parents’ names?
Both of my parents are dead now, but my parents’ names were Button and Marjory Webster.
3. Where did you go to school?
Well, I went to John W. Overstate Elementary School and Starkville High School.
4. Who is your favorite author and why?
Earnest Hemingway. He was adventurous, his writing was one of the most supple that anybody has ever written. His works are very, very easy to read. He could describe so many things in so few words. I have been to Cuba, to his house. I have read each of his books three times.
5. What author do your think had influence you the most? Why?
Ernest Hemingway. Just the life that he had, his influence on literature. In Cuba today, he is still very much a folk hero.
6. What kind of student were you in high school?
In high school, I was an average student. I made B’s, a few A’s and C’s. Just an average student, but when I went to college, I started studying. In college, I was on the Dean’s list every quarter, except once I was on the President’s list. I applied myself when I went to college.
7. When did you become interested in writing?
Jan. 1, 1988.
8. Was there something in particular that got you interested in writing?
I just woke up one day and decided to write. I just wanted to entertain people. A challenge to see if I could do it, and be able to do it, and be able to learn how to do it. I wanted to learn how to be a writer.
9. How long did it take you to write The Voyage of the Encounter?
It took eight years. From the time I started till the time it was published.
10. Where did you get the idea for this book?
When I was in Wall Street, I saw a fellow get arrested in front me– and my sailing experiences.
11. Are you working on a new book right now?
I am. It is called The House of Sugar.
12. When will your new book be published?
Hopefully by end of this year or the first of next year.
13. Do you have any advice for future writers?
I certainly do. My advice is to read, read, read. Pay attention in English class, especially English Composition.
14. Do you have any advice for students today?
My advice for students today is that it is a great wonderful world, work hard, stay off drugs, and there is no limit to your future.
15. What is your favorite quote?
I think my favorite quote is “What does around, comes around,” and “Justice will prevail.”
16. How has Mississippi or living in Mississippi influenced your writing?
As a child, we spent many hours with neighbors visiting, people were always telling stories. To be a good writer, you have to be a good story-teller. I remember listening for hours as grown-ups told me stories. That was a form of entertainment and socialization. A lot of that was before the television. The stories were myths and legends, and they were the truth, and they were humorous, and they were happy and sad. A combination of all those great things make great stories. I was very fortunate to have grown up inMississippi and have that great opportunity. My nearest playmate was seven miles away from my house. I lived out in the wildlife refugee, so I had to use a lot of my imagination. That period of time developed my imagination much more than a normal person at that age.
17. When did you move to Mississippi?
I moved here in 1948 when I was four years old.
18. What did you major in college?
19. What will your new book be about?
It talks about how the Mafia is related to Kennedy’s assassination; sale of illicit drugs in Cuba, New Orleans and the Far East. It includes the Opium War and the Vietnam War.
20. Is this book (Voyage of the Encounter) even though fiction, based on your life or someone you know?
It is based on my experience in the storm on the Atlantic Ocean, May of 1988.
21. Why did you decide to write about sailing in the sea as the subject of your book?
Because I just love sailing. I have had a lot of experience sailing, and I love the ocean.
22. Are you traveling anywhere this year?
I am going to China on business this month. I have already been to China twice, and the thing I like most about China is the banquet.
Telephone Interview with Sheldon Webster – April 15, 1997
by Health Hilton (SHS)
1. What inspired you to write The Betheaden Road?
I woke up one morning, and I felt like I had some stories to tell. I felt that I could write some stories to entertain people and also convey a message about the changes in Mississippi.
2. How long did it take you to write it?
I started writing it in 1986, and it was published in 1994. You know ,writing is like being a brick mason. You have to add word after word, sentence after sentence, just like a brick mason adds brick after brick. Not only does it have to make sense, it needs to grab the reader’s attention. You have to be dedicated to be a successful writer.
3. In this book, I read a story about an alligator. Is this story based upon a real event that happened to you or to somebody you knew?
No, I pretty much made that story up. When I was younger, about your age, my father ran the Noxubee Refuge. Well, one day he brought in some alligators to Bluff Lake to control the number of beavers. Ever since then I have been fascinated with alligators. I guess that is the reason why I wrote that story.
4. Did you base the characters upon people you really knew?
I kind of based them upon people who I had known well enough to express their feelings, personality, and their outlook on life.
5. Do any of the characters represent you?
Yes, all of the characters somewhat represent me.
6. I read that you climbed Mount Kenebula. Did you have fun doing this?
Yes, it was a lot of fun, and I’m going to Alaska to climb Mount McKinley.
7. I also read that you have been working on a novel about your experience crossing the Atlantic Ocean. What is the name of the book and how long have you been working on it?
The book is going to be my first novel, and it is going to be called The Voyage of the Encounter. It is 350 pages long, and I started working on it in 1990. I finished writing this novel in 1996; and last Tuesday, April 8, I was in New York negotiating a contract to get it published. I haven’t decided whether I’ll take this contract or not, but the novel should be out in two years.
8. After your first novel is published, do you plan to continue writing?
I plan to continue writing as long as I am able to because I love writing more than anything else.
- “Bio of Sheldon Burton Webster.” Tuesday, April 11, 2000.
- “Birmingham Accountant Shuns the Slow Lane.” Mississippi State Alumnus Magazine. April 1999: 34.
- Box, Florence. Personal interview. 14 April. 2000.
- Nelson, Thomas, ed. 30th Year Reunion: Class of 1962, November 27, 1992.
- “The Voyage of the Encounter.” [Online] Available http://www.rutledgebooks.com/webster.com, April 13, 2000.
- Webster, Sheldon Burton. The Voyage of the Encounter. Connecticut: Rutledge Books, Inc., 1998.
- Webster, Sheldon. Personal interview. 11 April. 2000.