June 2014 Bar Bulletin
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June 2014 Bar Bulletin

DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD: Judge Gerard M. Shellan (Ret.)

By Stew Cogan

 

Judge Gerard M. Shellan (Ret.)

"He is one of a kind."

That assessment, by former WSBA and KCBA President Wayne Blair, echoes the feelings of the thousands of lawyers and judges who have crossed paths with Judge Gerard M. Shellan (Ret.) over his long and storied career. Judge Shellan richly deserves the Distinguished Service Award bestowed upon him this year in recognition of his long service to the bench, the bar, the legal community and the community-at-large.

Raised in Pennsylvania, Judge Shellan joined the U.S. Army at age 19 in 1942, serving in the Army Counterintelligence Corps. He landed at Normandy in July 1944 and saw action in the European Theater as the army made its way across France, Belgium and Holland, and into Germany. He participated in the Ardennes counteroffensive, which consisted of a series of battles involving more than one million combatants and later came to be known as the Battle of the Bulge. Judge Shellan endured one of the most brutal winters the region had ever experienced with temperatures that plunged below zero. The United States suffered more than 76,000 casualties in the Battle of the Bulge, including more than 19,000 killed and 23,000 captured.

After the war, the G.I. Bill allowed Judge Shellan to attend New York University and the Columbia University School of Law, where he received his LL.B. and J.D. degrees in 1949. After moving to Washington and passing the bar, he sought work during an economic slump by contacting every firm in Seattle with more than two members. He initially worked for an insurance company, but finally found a job with Arthur Haugan in Renton, and he remained with the growing firm for the next 27 years. During that time, Judge Shellan also served as the city attorney for Renton under five mayors and 11 city councils.


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