Albert J. ‘Al’ Shulley, a longtime Baltimore County educator who volunteered at the National Aquarium and made crab discovery, dies

Albert J. "Al" Shulley compiled more than 4,800 volunteer hours at the National Aquarium.

Albert J. “Al” Shulley, a longtime Baltimore County Public Schools science educator and department chair who also taught at the Community College of Baltimore County — along with volunteering for nearly four decades at the National Aquarium — died Oct. 31 of pneumonia at Gilchrist Center in Towson. The Timonium resident was 83.

“Al had a long career in education,” said Christine M. DeStefano, assistant dean of CCBC’s science department, who worked with Mr. Shulley for a decade. “He was personable, amazing and a wonderful colleague who was always perfectly willing to work with students.”


Albert John Shulley, who was known as “Al,” was born in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, the son of Raymond Shulley, an auto mechanic, and Lillian Shulley, a homemaker.

He was raised in Fairfield, Pennsylvania, where he graduated in 1957 from Fairfield High School, and earned a bachelor of science degree in 1961 from Shippensburg State College, now Shippensburg University, in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. He later obtained a master’s degree in education from what is now Morgan State University.


While at college, he met and fell in love with another student, the former Carol Shoenfelt, who earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Shippensburg.

“We were lab partners,” recalled Mrs. Shulley with a laugh. The couple married in 1962.

Mr. Shulley began his teaching career in Baltimore County Public Schools in 1961 at North Point Junior High School, and in 1968, he was named science department chair at Golden Ring Junior High School.

His wife taught math at Holabird Junior High School from 1962 to 1968, when she left teaching to raise the couple’s two children at their then-home in Rosedale, where they lived for 30 years.

He was chairman of the science department of what is now Stemmers Run Middle School from 1970 to 1977, when he was appointed science department chair at Chesapeake High School in Essex, from which he retired in 1998.

While teaching at Stemmers Run in 1971, Mr. Shulley made an important scientific find when he discovered at Calvert Cliffs in Calvert County in Southern Maryland a hard-shelled crab, Necronectus drydeni, one of only a handful of a type of crab that dates to the Miocene Age. A cousin to the common, edible blue crab, the crab was estimated to be 15 million to 20 million years old.

Mr. Shulley was leading his class of 40 students at Calvert Cliffs, known as a repository of prehistoric fossils and shark teeth.

In an interview with The Evening Sun, he said the fossil looked “just like an ordinary blue crab, about 4 inches across, but without claws and feelers,” and his discovery was “just luck. I’m certainly an amateur in this field.”


He added that he found the crab ‘in the open shoreline. I didn’t know what I had found, but I thought it might be something important.”

Experts at the Smithsonian Institution told the newspaper that Mr. Shulley’s specimen “is more complete than is ordinarily the case, and is larger than the specimens that have been found up until now.”

Dundalk High School senior Quandra Gray and instructor Albert J. “Al” Shulley examine Gray's ecosystem in a bottle during an environmental science class at CCBC-Dundalk in October 2001.

At the time, the Smithsonian had only four such crabs in its permanent collection, and Mr. Shulley graciously donated his in exchange for a cast copy of the fossil.

After retiring, Mr. Shulley continued teaching science as an adjunct professor at the Essex and Dundalk campuses of the Community College of Baltimore County for more than two decades.


“He taught a variety of classes for us at our Owings Mills, Essex and Dundalk campuses,” Dean DeStefano said. “He was always willing to stop in and chat, and brought us vegetables from his co-op garden.”

A biological profile submitted by his family reads, “Over the course of 60 years, Al touched the lives of thousands of students in Baltimore County, sharing his passion for biology, earth sciences and the environment.”

Mr. Shulley maintained a specific interest in marine biology and conservation, and when the National Aquarium opened in 1981, he was a member of the first group of volunteer guides.

The Morning Sun

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He was an educator and leader at the Inner Harbor attraction, where he compiled more than 4,800 volunteer hours in support of its programs and mission, until retiring in 2018.

A devoted Ravens fan, Mr. Shulley and his wife enjoyed taking their motor home to the Bryn Mawr Ocean Resort in St. Augustine, Florida.

“When we got too old to drive the motor home to Bryn Mawr, we rented a house there,” his wife said.


A resident of Mays Chapel for the past 30 years, Mr. Shulley also liked “testing his luck,” family members said, on day trips to local casinos.

He was a longtime member of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Rosedale.

Services are private.

In addition to his wife of 60 years, he is survived by a son, Steven Shulley of Sparks; a daughter, Stacy Ziegler of Perryville; and two grandchildren.