Those who knew Sheldon describe him as a colorful character who once raced cars up Pikes Peak, farmed sheep in Montana and fathered two children in an unsuccessful marriage.
John S. Sample, who met Sheldon while studying at Antioch, says he was an eccentric exemplar of the New England Harvard patrician demeanor.
"Sheldon was constantly wearing his doctor's smock as if he were coming out of the laboratory and called everyone 'Doctor' for reasons unknown," Sample says.
Sheldon had a cold, dark side, says Robert R. Holt, a former psychology professor at new York University, who met Sheldon in the 1940s.
"I never felt any warmth in [Sheldon]," Holt says. "In retrospect there was a psychopathic aspect to his personality," he adds. "He was very adept at manipulating people and exploiting situations for his own benefit."
Holt says that Sheldon's lack of empathy led him to deceive the thousands of subjects he photographed. "I don't think he cared about their feelings," Holt says.
Ivy League Gene Pool
Many who knew Sheldon describe him as a racist and a Nazi-sympathizer who espoused "eugenic" philosophies.
"Sheldon was critical of the possibility of attainment of Blacks, Hispanics and Jews," Sample says. "He put limits on what he regarded as their potential," he says. "He thought they had a limited IQ ceiling."
Sample says Sheldon was a "holocaust revisionist" who stopped reading the New York Times because it was "run by Jews who were part of a conspiracy to take over the world."
"Sheldon defended Hitler as having a good many virtues," Sample says.
Sheldon is said to have believed that Ivy League students should mate only with one another to produce a "super race" of children.
"Sheldon would've been happy to breed a super race, possibly made up of Northern Europeans, somewhat along the lines of what Hitler espoused," Sample says.
"If Sheldon had his way, he would've taken all the cream out of the Ivy League," Sample adds. "He would've liked to see a race built upon the Harvard types."