Austin's Final Interview - January 26, 2008
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Austin was born on April 7, 1926 in Salem, Massachusetts (The home of the
witches – and in fact, he had a long lost relative who was a witch and was
burned at the stake). He was the sixth of eight children born to Eugene
Newell Shute of Searsport, Maine and Dorothy Dunn of Medford, Massachusetts.
Of his seven brothers and sisters, all but one sister served in the
Military. His siblings were: Eugene, Norma, Edward Parker, David, Frances,
Marjorie and Robert. Austin and Parker are the only two still alive.
Austin was raised in Melrose, Mass. However, he has always called Pigeon
Cove, Rockport Massachusetts his home. His parents purchased a little
cottage there and they spent as much time there as possible. He ice skated
on the ponds in the winter and swam in the quarries in the summer. At age 12
he went to sea aboard commercial fishing vessels. “Bib” Hillier took him
under his wing and they became life long friends. Austin has said many times
he learned more from Bib than any other man he had ever known. The sea has
always had a strong pull on Austin’s heart strings. If he could re-join the
Navy today, he would in a heartbeat.
At age 17 Austin joined the Navy and went “off to war”. He served on an LST
and was stationed in Sasebo, Japan. He always says his back injury was from
a bayonet, but it was really from changing a tire on a jeep in Sasebo.
though. He was honorably discharged from the Navy in June,
He came back, entered Dartmouth and flunked out. He decided he wanted to be
a journalist and heard MU had a really good J school. His dad gave him $5.00
to get back here from Massachusetts and he set out hitchhiking. He had a
little money left when he arrived in Columbia, Mo. He started J school and
about a year later, decided he wanted to go to law school. He walked over to
the law school, told the dean he wanted to enter law school. There was no
test – he just started the next semester.
He graduated from the University of Missouri, Columbia with his B.A. in 1950
and J.D. in 1952. He was a former assistant county prosecutor during the
1950’s. Austin is an old-school lawyer, proud of his profession and the way
he practices. He has never turned a client away because they were unable to
pay. He has always given the destitute and forgotten a voice. There was
actually a time in his life when he accepted green beans for a fee.
Austin was admitted to practice in the Missouri Supreme Court in 1952 and
the United States Supreme Court in July 1989. He served as Honorary Staff
for Governor Hernes in 1965. With the exception of the few years
prosecuting, his work has been mostly in the field of criminal law.
The colorfulness of his law practice has been through some of the clients he
has represented: the original flower children, hippies, yuppies, yippies,
S.D.S., Weathermen Underground, several motorcycle clubs, and most the most
fun – the Black Panthers. Much of his work has been pro bono. Pete O’Neil
once came to his apartment with a boa constrictor wrapped around his neck.
The snake later bit him. He was always able to keep the Panthers under
control and well behaved around the police, which is where they were most of
One of Austin’s most memorable times in his life was when he began the fight
for civil rights in 1946. This battle against those who would discriminate
against persons of color, or different religious went on for many years.
There were some individuals who accomplished more than Austin, but none who
served longer and harder in the trenches.
Austin and Judy have been married for 36 years this December 22nd. They were
married here in Kansas City and honeymooned in Hawaii. They have two
children, Carrie Beth Shute (Dimino) and Shannon Nicole Shute (Howe). They
also have five children from a previous marriage: Michael Conrad, David
Austin, Daniel Connor, Susan Elizabeth (Deceased) and Austin Francis Shute,
Jr. Their children give them much delight. They also have several
grandchildren: Benjamin, Parker, Jacob, Ryan, Casey, Matthew, D.J., Nick,
Molly, Zenon, and Miles. Trailing along are two great grandchildren, Whitney
Austin and Judy have traveled extensively, which is one of their great joys.
They have been on numerous cruises, as well as having traveled to Tahiti,
Canary Islands, Switzerland, England, Ireland, Spain, Canada and many places
in the U.S. This, of course, does not include Austin’s cruise to Sasebo in
1943 aboard the LST. In recent years they have taken
several train trips,
which they have decided is the very best way to travel. You can see things
you could never see from the sky or the road! Then, of course, there was the
trip to Nigeria which Austin took to meet with a client. They would not let
Judy in the country, so he left her in Switzerland. She had no idea when he
was leaving Nigeria and he had no idea when she was leaving Switzerland, but
they ended up in the same line at Heathrow Airport going through customs!
This was way before cell phones…………..
Austin semi-retired in 2000 but has continued to keep his feet in the legal
waters by doing pro bono work for the Missouri Bar Association. He still
enjoys a good fight!
FULL OBITUARY NOTICE
Austin Francis Shute, Lawyer
After a long and sometimes courageous battle with life, and it's many
trials and tribulations, Austin finally gave up the ghost.
He was born on April 7, 1926 in Salem, Massachusetts, the sixth of eight
children born to the union of Eugene Newell Shute, Searsport, Maine and
Dorothea Dunn, Medford, Massachusetts. Of his seven brothers and sisters,
Eugene, Norma, Edward Parker, David, Frances, Marjorie and Robert, all but
one sister served in the military. All predeceased him (except for Edward
Parker Shute of Gainesville, FL.)
Austin claimed as his hometown, Pigeon Cove, Massachusetts, where he went to
sea aboard commercial fishing vessels at the age of 12. He learned more
about life from these fishermen than anywhere else, and there was not a day
in his life he did not have memories of the rough and tumble life at sea. It
was a period of his life that served him well in later years dry docked in
He enlisted in the Navy in 1943, and served two years as a signalman in the
amphibious forces in the Pacific and Japan.
Married to Judy Shute, his beloved wife of 37 years, Austin leaves six
children, Michael (wife, Rhoda), David (wife, Joy), Austin Jr., Daniel
(wife, TaSeena), Carrie (husband, Joseph) and Shannon (husband, Jeffrey). He
was pre-deceased by one daughter, Susan Elizabeth. He loved his wife and
children, and was only sorry he had the inability to show that love as much
as he should. He is survived by grandchildren, Ryan, Casey, Matthew, Parker,
Jacob, D.J., Nicholas, Molly, Zenon, Miles and Benjamin, as well as two
great grandchildren, Whitney and Tristan.
Austin was an old-school lawyer, proud of his profession as he practiced it,
and was proud of never turning a client away because they were unable to
pay, and of giving destitute and forgotten a voice.
Austin graduated from the University of Missouri, Columbia with his B.A.
(1950) and J.D. (1952). He was a former assistant county prosecutor during
the 1950's, (the first to warn about organized crime), and again as Drug
Count Prosecutor in 2001. He was admitted to practice in the Supreme Court
of the United States, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Missouri
Bar, as well as a number of other State and Federal courts across the
country pro hac vitae. Austin was never a great lawyer, but always a good
one, and did much of his work pro bono, including serving on the Supreme
Court Disciplinary Committee, Fee Dispute and Complaint Resolution
Committee, as well as Mediation and Arbitration, all for the Missouri Bar.
Among others, he represented the original flower children, hippies, yuppies,
yippies, S.D.S., Weatherman Underground, the Black Panthers, 1% Motorcycle
clubs, many of whom, except for the 1%ers, grew up to be conservative
Austin belonged to too many civic and political groups to list, and was
proud of the fact that his fight for civil rights began in 1946, on his
discharge from the Navy. This battle against those who would discriminate
against persons of color, or different religions went on for many years.
There were some individuals who accomplished more than Austin, but none who
served longer and harder in the trenches. He always lived the adage that it
is the intellectuals who start wars, and the grunts who have to win them.
Austin was a Catholic, a member of St. Catherine of Siena Parish, where he
served as a lector, Eucharistic minister and former lay presider. He was a
4th degree Knight of Columbus, member of the Holy Name Society and served on
the Parish Ministry Council. He was not as good a Catholic as some, but like
everything else in his life, he had his moments. He will be cremated. A
visitation will be Tuesday, February 5, 2007 from 4-5 pm at St. Catherine's,
4101 East 105th Terrace, KCMO. The memorial service will begin at 5pm
followed by an Irish wake immediately after the memorial at 3707 E. 104th
St., Kansas City, MO 64137.
Please, no flowers. The cloying smell of flowers at funerals always made
Austin ill. If you want, make a contribution in his name to you favorite
charity, or to St. Catherine SPRED (Special Religious Education for the
"With rue my heart is laden
For golden friends I had,
For many a rose lit maiden
And many a light foot lad.
By brooks too broad for leaping,
The light food lads are laid;
The rose lit girls are sleeping
In fields where roses fade."
A Shropshire Lad, by A. E. Houseman
THE DEFENSE RESTS!