Joliet lawyer helped solve people’s problems
By Denise Baran-Unland For The Herald-News August 26, 2012 4:14PM
Updated: September 28, 2012 6:06AM
After school, when Bob Shutts of Joliet was a Joliet Catholic High School student, he often stopped by the law firm of his father, Eugene Shutts of Joliet.
While there, Bob noticed the many people who came to the office thinking they had unfixable problems simply because they hadn’t the knowledge to resolve them. Seeing how Eugene helped them inspired Bob to continue the family legacy.
“They’d come through the door upset,” Bob said, “and leave reassured and feeling much better.”
Bob surmises the five-generation law firm of Shutts, Shutts, and Portlock might be the oldest in Illinois. Bob knows that in 1880 his great-grandfather, Peter Shutts, was a practicing attorney in Will County.
Perhaps if Eugene, a former Joliet Central High School trombone player, hadn’t grown up during the Depression era, he might have chosen a less predictable career path.
After Eugene had taught himself Morse code he, with the help of his uncle, an electrical engineer that had wired the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, built a practice key. Later, Eugene rode the train into Chicago to obtain his Morse code license. Once received, Eugene worked on merchant ships in the Great Lakes area.
“To me, it was a great achievement,” Bob said. “It was his own interest and he did it by himself.”
From 1942 to 1946, Eugene served with the U.S. Army in Africa. In his final year, Eugene met his wife, Regine (deceased) in Casablanca, French Morocco. Eugene felt especially proud of the time he spent on submarines in combat zones.
“Many of the lawyers who entered the Army had desk jobs and, later, he did have a desk job,” Bob said. “But in the beginning he was out on the line in those convoys.”
Calm and thoughtful, Eugene was a supportive father who valued family. After Regine died, although he missed her terribly, Eugene often quipped about taking his time to join her because he so looked forward to seeing his family.
Yet, Eugene extended those same characteristics beyond his immediate family. As an executive board member for the Boy Scouts’ Rainbow Council, Eugene reviewed Eagle Scout applicants and attended the ceremonies.
“I knew he encouraged me to be a Scout,” said Bob, who attained rank of First Class. “He believed Scouting was a wonderful program to build men’s character.”
Eugene passed the bar in 1942 and practiced law until 2005. He spent his remaining years enjoying the company of loved ones, reading newspapers and watching television news broadcasts. Up until Eugene died on Aug. 12 at the age of 95, he retained his law license.
“He never spoke about it, but he clearly enjoyed the law,” Bob said. “He always had a pile of books on his desk and he seemed to be happiest when researching cases.”
Contact Denise M. Baran-Unland at 815-467-5249 or email@example.com.