Rathburn Wiley Shelton
October 4, 1923 – February 1, 2012
Rath Shelton died February 1, 2012 of complications from pneumonia. He was 88. A long time resident of Santa Barbara, Rath was born in Taft, California, to Alice Rachel Braden and James Orto Shelton who had moved from Texas in the early 1920s. After graduating from Taft High School, Rath moved to Santa Barbara to study music at Santa Barbara State College, (now UCSB).
In 1943 he married the love of his life, Peggy Emmens, (1924-1984). He soon joined the Army, becoming part of the Big Band under Ray Ellis as lead trumpet playing for the troops in London until the end of the War. He returned to Santa Barbara to attend Westmont College, and after graduating in Sociology in 1950 began a 30 year career with the college as Director of Public Relations and later the Alumni Association, which he founded. A good athlete, especially in baseball, Rath also coached the Westmont team in the 1950s.
Rath was the face of Westmont for the community at large, interacting with the press here and in Los Angeles, the Ad Club and the summer youth baseball programs. He was a founding member of the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table. He and Peggy owned and operated Camp Lorr from 1972-1985.
A musician from a very young age, Rath kept music a part of his life to the end, always playing the trumpet or piano, often with other musicians who inevitably dropped by.
He is survived by his brother Jim and Ann Klein Shelton of Santa Barbara, Sister in law Joan and Don Law of Los Gatos, CA, Brother in law Bill and Sylvia Emmens of Orcas, WA; four sons, Ron Shelton and Lolita Davidovich of Los Angeles, David Shelton and Rachel Solomon, Steve and Ruby-Jeanne Shelton, Jeff and Karin Freud Shelton, of Santa Barbara; twelve grandchildren, Stephanie, Gabrielle, Nina, Joe, Ben, Josh, Eli, Matt, Elena, Mattie, Valentina, and Anton; and seven great-grandchildren, Oakley, Loring, Owen, Ellery, Cleo, Ulysses and Leo.
A memorial celebration will held at 2 PM on Sunday, February 19, 2012, at 801 Cold Spring Road.