Michael Taylor Shelby
1958 - 2006
"Have fun Daddy, we love you!"
Taylor Shelby was born in Luling, Texas, on November 5, 1958.
He grew up in Houston. His fascination with space began at an
early age through animated discussions he had with NASA employed
friends of his parents, Marilyn and David. Michael grew up during
the age of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space programs and he
quickly developed a passion for all things space-related. As a
child, he built a "Space Capsule" in his front yard
complete with switches, flashing light batteries and dials, and
he communicated with his astronauts — his brother Bobby
and sisters Teena and Lisa — by walkie-talkie from Mission
Control, his bedroom. He spent high school summers working at
NASA as a delivery assistant. Throughout his life, every time
he saw an astronaut doing a space walk or moon walk or completing
a mission, he would say, “That should be me up there!”
Michael graduated from Texas A&M University and attended
law school at the University of Texas, where he fell in love with
his wife of 23 years, Diana Jane. He became a highly decorated
commissioned officer in the U.S. Naval Reserves and held the rank
of Commander. He served in the Middle East during Operation Desert
Storm, and also had active military duty in Bosnia. He was a state
prosecutor in Houston and a federal prosecutor in Houston and
Phoenix, and during the last year of his life, he was honored
to be a partner with the law firm of Fulbright & Jaworski
Michael was passionate about defending and protecting his country.
His career path led him to what he described as the greatest job
of his life, being appointed by President George W. Bush as the
twentieth United States Attorney for the Southern District of
Texas, a position he held from the fall of 2001 to the spring
of 2005. Prior to this appointment, Michael was a career prosecutor
who worked closely with NASA in various endeavors and cases, including
the successful prosecution, while in Phoenix, of an individual
who was selling supposed Apollo 11 moon-rocks. This case
led Michael to meet, interview and exchange letters with his lifelong
hero, Neil Armstrong. He met almost all Apollo and numerous other
U.S. astronauts. His love for space overflowed into his daughters’
lives, as he eagerly took both at young ages to meet moonwalkers
Alan Bean and Gene Cernan. His close association with NASA continued
while he was the United States Attorney. In 2004, Michael had
a dream fulfilled when he was invited to try on a custom fitted
EVA spacesuit at the Johnson Space Center. His brother Bobby accompanied
him and described Michael’s face as filled with pure joy
and ecstasy — looking and acting like a kid in a candy store.
He had been outfitted finally in real astronaut attire. He filled
his home with model spacecrafts, pictures and signatures of astronauts,
and more space memorabilia than one can imagine.
His love of space led him to become an expert skydiver. He was
a world traveler and time permitting, Michael made arrangements
to jump every place he went. The true adrenaline rush he experienced
in free fall was an indescribable feeling to him and he always
tried to recruit skydiving companions from among his friends and
Most of all, Michael wanted to be remembered for his true love
for his three “baby babies” — his wife Diana
and his daughters Elizabeth (17) and Sarah (13). He was the greatest
family man anybody could ask for, and he made it a point to put
family above all things. He often said, “Remember what’s
important,” a phrase he used to describe the necessity of
a strong, loving family. Michael’s zeal for life has inspired
his daughters to pursue wholeheartedly everything in their lives,
and his persistence has taught them to never give up on their
dreams. His zealous legacy lives on in his three girls.
We love you, Pops, and we miss you so much. Have fun up there,
and say hi to the other Big Guy for us.
Elizabeth, Sarah and Diana
"I would rather be ashes
I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant
blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be
superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy
and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time.”
- Jack London