Former NIU general counsel, interim AD remembered for enthusiasm

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012 5:30 a.m.CDT

DeKALB – For 20 years, Anne Kaplan saw George Shur almost daily in the hallways of Northern Illinois University.

“He was a genuine enthusiast,” said Kaplan, who is NIU’s vice president of outreach, engagement and information technologies. “No matter what he was doing, George loved it. He could get excited about almost anything going on on campus.”

Shur, who was Northern Illinois University’s general counsel for 20 years, died Nov. 25 in Chicago. A memorial service is scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. in the Altgeld Hall auditorium.

Kaplan said Shur’s death came as a shock.

“I think people who knew him were absolutely stunned because he was so full of life and was so engaged in what he was doing,” Kaplan said.

Shur is survived by his wife, Martha; daughter, Rebecca; son, Aaron; sister, Janet; grandsons, Jacob and Quinn; and a large extended family.

Shur was born in 1942 in Portland, Maine. His father, Barnett Shur, was the first municipal lawyer in Maine and the founder of the law firm known today as Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer & Nelson. After graduating from Boston University School of Law, Shur joined the firm, becoming partner.

“He worked very hard to match the intensity and desire of his father to be an excellent attorney, and he was indeed an excellent attorney,” said Charlie Miller, the CEO of Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer & Nelson.

Since the 1970s, the law firm has served as a general counsel for the University of Maine system. Miller said Shur was very passionate about his work with universities even then, so it was not a surprise Shur left the firm to become NIU’s general counsel in 1984.

During his time at NIU, Shur served as president of the National Association of College and University Attorneys.

“You have to be extraordinarily well-regarded to get a leadership role in that organization,” Miller said.

Even as he served as the university’s general counsel, Shur was active in DeKalb. He was on the DeKalb school board from 1991 to 1999 and acted with the Stagecoach Players Theater. Shur came back to NIU after his retirement to serve as the interim athletic director.

In honor of his memory, Miller said the law firm made a donation to the Shur-Frinsko Award for Municipal Law and Local Governance – an award given to University of Maine law students who have excelled in the area of municipal law.

People can donate to the George M. Shur Student Scholarship at NIU’s College of Law. Call 815-753-1301 for more information.


To attend

What: Memorial service for George Shur, former general counsel for Northern Illinois University

When: 1 p.m. Sunday

Where: Altgeld Hall auditorium, Northern Illinois University in DeKalb

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