Carroll Shelby’s Body Still in Dallas Morgue

The wife and children of famed auto designer Carroll Shelby are fighting over control of his remains more than a month after his death. 
Wed June 20, 2012 10:26 pm
AP Photo

More than a month after his death, legendary car designer Carroll Shelby lies in a body bag at the Dallas County morgue as his children and latest wife fight in court over what should become of his remains.

Shelby, the Leesburg-born mind behind the Shelby Cobra, died on May 10 at Baylor Hospital in Dallas at age 89. Jerry Hirsch of the Los Angeles Times reported on the legal tussle over Shelby's corpse. Basically, it boils down to Shelby's seventh wife, Cleo Shelby, wants the body, but his children say their father wanted to be cremated. In an advanced directive signed Feb. 8, Shelby indicated he wanted one fourth of his ashes to be buried at his farm and the remaining fourths to be distributed to his three children, Hirsch wrote.

"We are trying to honor Carroll Shelby's wishes," Michael Shelby told the Times. "This is not a case of what the kids want versus what the wife wants." (It is worth noting that Michael Shelby donated his kidney to his father in 1996, according to Carroll's obituary in the Dallas Morning News . Carroll Shelby had a heart transplant in 1990.)

Cleo, a former model who designs jewelry, married Carroll in 1997 in Las Vegas. But he had filed for divorce in a Texas court.

The dispute could take weeks to resolve, Patrick Shelby, another son, told the AP Tuesday.

Carol Flake Chapman examined Shelby's legend and knack for reinventing himself in the June 1995 issue of TEXAS MONTHLY :

"I'm fixin' to be seventy-two years old," Carroll Shelby told me one afternoon last fall at his farm in northeast Texas. "But you could turn me loose naked on the street, and by next January I'd be comfortable somewhere."

Over the course of his life, Shelby worked as a chicken farmer, Air Force pilot, African safari operator, race car driver, and, of course, muscle car designer. He was one of the founders of the Terlingua chili cookoff and raised miniature horses and ostriches on his farm.

"The fight for his body is the latest chapter in what had been a colorful life, and is now turning into an equally colorful legacy," Hirsch wrote.

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