Time to change the calendar to the year 2016 — and 2015 went by too quickly for me. It is also to time to finish up the end of the year business and get ready for 2016. We also use this as a time to reflect on the past year and remember those who will not be with us as we begin the new year.
As one who reads the death notices, the obituary of Gerald Shea on Dec. 11 caught my eye and made me reflect on a man who was part of Riverside for a number of years. I had known Jerry, but as so often happens we had lost touch.
What wasn’t in his obituary was that he, his wife, Joanne and daughter, Courtney had resided in Riverside for a number of years in a beautiful stately home on Herrick Road. And it was while he resided in Riverside that he was a Democratic state representative, a position he held for five terms, including a term as the House majority leader.
Often referred to as the chief spokesman for the first Mayor Daley, Shea was very attentive to the area he represented and particularly Riverside but was very low key in his efforts for his adopted hometown.
Shea was raised in Oak Park and worked to put himself through school, taking on jobs as a garbage man and a bartender, to name a couple, before finally earning his law degree from DePaul University.
His schooling was interrupted while he served in the military. An early career included being an assistant state’s attorney, the administrative officer for the chief judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County and director of the Department of Research, Planning and Development for the Circuit Court of Cook County.
Shea left state government after a successful career, wanting to spend more time with his family. His late wife, Joanne, was also an attorney as is his daughter, Courtney. He went on to become a senior principal in the lobbying firm of Shea, Rogal and Associates. And while his career as an elected official might have ended, Shea continued to serve, chairing the University of Illinois’ Board of Trustees from 1999 to 2002 as well as serving on various state commissions and boards.
His residence at the time of his death from pneumonia at age 84 was Burr Ridge and though his time as a “good neighbor” in Riverside was not mentioned in his obituary, he will be remembered by those who knew him as a faithful servant to his constituents.