Shel died March 27, 2020, of Parkinson’s disease. He lived in Scarsdale, N.Y., for the last 50 years.
At Princeton Shel was a member of the Liberal Union and belonged to Prospect. He graduated with high honors in history, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.
He earned a master’s degree in sociology from Harvard as a Woodrow Wilson Scholar. In 1952 he enlisted in the Army and served in Army Intelligence in Berlin.
With a law degree from Harvard, he began a long legal career in New York City, early on as an assistant U.S. attorney and then in a litigation firm he and friends founded. An adjunct law professor at Columbia for 50 years, he was active in the New York City Bar Association, the American Law Institute, and the American College of Trial Lawyers.
He was chief counsel of a New York commission during the city’s fiscal crisis. He wrote influential law-review articles and argued successfully before the U.S. Supreme Court.
He was a constant reader, often in French and German — two of the seven languages he mastered. He loved opera and his home on Martha’s Vineyard.
Shel is survived by son Jonathan; daughter Susan ’79 and her husband, Charles ’79; and five grandchildren. His wife Gerri, whom he married in 1952, died in 2009.