Philip Anderson Shelton

Date of Birth

July 3, 1938

Date of Death

May 25, 2012

City of Death

Santa Barbara

07/03/1938 – 05/25/2012

Philip passed away peacefully at home on Friday, May 25, 2012. Born 07/03/1938 in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Philip settled in Santa Barbara in the 1970’s. While he was studying Veterinary medicine in the Northwest, he was lured into the dramatic and intriguing world of working undercover for the US federal government and Interpol. Even though Philip found his undercover work interesting and exciting, he also suffered injuries and was fortunate to stay alive.

After many years of traveling and working undercover Philip decided to establish his own Private Investigation business in San Francisco. His business flourished and Philip became involved in many high profile cases. He also developed associations with some interesting characters such as Hal Lipset, the inventor of the “olive” in the martini glass bug/recorder.

Eventually Philip was offered a more “quiet” position working for the Santa Barbara county Public Defender’s office as the chief criminal investigator. He was expecting to live a more low-key lifestyle but the interesting characters and associations seemed to follow him. He continued to find himself in perilous circumstances, often having to travel worldwide to investigate cases. He retired after 18 years of dedicated service to the county. When asked by friends and family how he could stand the constant exposure to the negative parts of life, he would always answer that he found good in the people that needed help as well as their families. Philip loved his career of intrigue and investigation but, in the end, his greatest reward was helping people find their way through their personal crises.

In addition to his work Philip had a true passion for writing, science and music. His interest in music gave him the solace and recharging needed after working an especially difficult case. His writing and scientific studies gave him quiet refuge and a distraction from his intense professional life.

Philip strived to do the best he could to meld his professional life with his personal life. It would be impossible for those of us who loved him to understand the true realities of the experiences he had had so Philip helped us by being an incredible story teller. Put a microphone in Philip’s hand and he was unstoppable. Luckily he was an incredible speaker and could captivate an audience in just a few seconds.

Above all, though, Philip loved to entertain and to be around people he loved and cared about. Getting together with family and friends for good food and wine and great conversations became his favorite past time. A larger-than-life type of person (both in height and personality) he couldn’t help leaving a lasting impression on everyone he met…whether it be a family of strangers who just needed his help and sense of reason in a crisis or a stranger he met at the grocery store.

In public, Philip was recognized by his stature and his hats but he will be remembered by those who loved and knew him by the impact he made on so many people…whether they be clients, friends or his treasured wife and extended family.

Philip is survived by his wife, Theil, his adored puppy Obo, at their home in Santa Barbara, his son Thane (Erin) grandsons, Skylar and Garrett, sister Frederica and his stepsons Jacob (Tamra) Morgan and Rivers Morgan and many close friends.

Please join us in a toast to celebrate Philip’s wonderful life in the Redwood area of the SB courthouse from 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. on June 16th.


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