Samuel Ainslie Shelburne Jr.

September 3, 1934January 7, 2021

On January 7, 2021, Dr. Samuel Ainslie Shelburne, Jr. of Bethesda, Maryland died from complications of a stroke. He is survived by his beloved wife of 58 years, Sally Smyser Shelburne; his daughters, Jan Shelburne (James Pastoriza) and Lee Shelburne Safran (Marc Safran); his sons, Craig Shelburne and Sam Shelburne (Julia Shelburne), and 11 grandchildren. He is also survived by his brother, George Shelburne and sister, Alice Shelburne Neild.

Sam, also known as Ainslie to family and close friends, was born on September 3, 1934 in Dallas, Texas to Dr. Samuel Ainslie and Gertrude Aldredge Shelburne. He graduated from Princeton University, where he was a member of the varsity golf team, in the class of 1956 with a degree in English. Then he attended the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas and began a long and distinguished career as a pediatric neurologist. Drafted during the Vietnam War, Sam was stationed for over three years in Washington DC at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. In 1969 he moved to Cincinnati where he was one of the founding members of the Division of Neurology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. In 1976, he moved to Washington DC where he spent the majority of his professional life as the Chief of the Division of Child Neurology at Children’s National Medical Center and Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics at the George Washington University.

In addition to his professional career, Ainslie was a longtime member of the Edgemoor and the Chevy Chase Clubs. His favorite playing partner was his wife. As a child, his family spent summers at the Chautauqua Institution, and he passed on his love for Chautauqua to his extended family. He was an avid reader, lover of art and classical music, life long learner and sports fan. But most of all, Ainslie was a devoted family man. Called Big A by his children and grandchildren, he knew them all intimately and will be dearly missed.

The family will hold a memorial for all who knew and loved Ainslie to gather together when it is safe to do so. If you would like to honor his life, please consider a donation in his name to the First Tee, the Washington Performing Arts at, or a charity of your choice.


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Samuel Ainslie Shelburne Jr.

have a memory or condolence to add?