by Walter Fox
J. Shane Creamer, 84, of Chestnut Hill, a former state attorney general who was the first director of the Pennsylvania Crime Commission, died Sept. 1 of Parkinson’s disease at Keystone Hospice in Wyndmoor.
Mr. Creamer, who also had been first assistant U.S. attorney in Philadelphia, was a widely known lawyer who was held in high regard by his colleagues in the legal profession.
Walter M. Phillips Jr., a lawyer and former federal and city prosecutor, described Mr. Creamer as a “very good trial lawyer” who had “very good instincts in the courtroom.”
“His reputation was impeccable,” Phillips said. “And you could trust him implicitly.”
Mr. Creamer graduated from Lower Merion High School and Villanova University. He received his law degree from Temple University’s School of Law.
He served for two years in the Army’s Judge Advocate General Corps, then spent 11 years with the Justice Department, for most of that time as first assistant U.S. attorney in Philadelphia. In 1968 he became the inaugural director of the Pennsylvania Crime Commission.
Mr. Creamer was appointed state attorney general in 1971 by Gov. Milton J. Shapp, but resigned the following year after a public dispute with then State Police Commissioner Rocco Urella over an illegal wiretap allegedly set up by three state troopers in a King of Prussia motel room that monitored the phones of officers investigating corruption for the Pennsylvania Crime Commission.
He then entered private practice as a trial lawyer, working with several firms over the years and becoming a partner in more than one. He retired in 2005 from Dilworth Paxon LLP.
He was the author of two books, “Law of Arrest, Search and Seizure“ and “A Citizen’s Guide to Legal Rights.”
Mr. Creamer, who also taught at Villanova University Law School for five years, served in several volunteer positions. He was president of the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons, chairman of the board of the Philadelphia Prison System, chairman of the Cabrini College Board of Trustees, and a board member of Goodwill Industries and the Pennsylvania Prison Society.
When Mr. Creamer stepped down in 2008 as AARP state president, the late Sen. Arlen Specter described him in a Senate tribute as “an outstanding advocate in the fight to protect the interests of older Pennsylvanians and truly a great supporter for the elderly.”
“During his tenure,” Specter said, “AARP fought for Medicare Part D drug coverage and won approval of a new state law that ends discrimination against older workers receiving Social Security.”
He is survived by his wife of 56 years, the former Mary-Ellen Tolan; sons J. Shane Creamer Jr., Brendan McShane Creamer and Kevin J.T. Creamer; daughters Colette Kleitz and E. Stacy Creamer, and eight grandchildren.
A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, at St. Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Church, 109 E. Price St., in Germantown. Relatives and friends may call at the church on Friday, Sept. 6, from 7 to 9 p.m. and on Saturday, Sept. 7, from 10 to 11 a.m.
Memorial donations may be made to Face to Face Germantown or Inn Dwelling, both at 109 E. Price St, Philadelphia, PA 19144.