Funeral held for Mayor Shaw

December 4, 2008 3:01:46 PM PST
Family and friends remembered Dolton Mayor Bill Shaw Thursday.He died last week at the age of 71 following a four-year battle with colon cancer.

There was very little that Mayor Shaw and his politician twin brother did over the years that was done without some controversy. And Thursday's home-going ceremony was no exception.

Chicago political theatre at a funeral - this one held in south suburban Dolton, where William "Bill" Shaw was mayor - at the end of a long career that included 20 years in the Illinois house and senate.

"I've never seen anybody with more political intuitiveness," said Emil Jones, (D) Illinois senate president.

Bill Shaw is survived by his twin brother Robert, a former Chicago alderman and Cook County board of review commissioner. After growing up on the city's West Side, the Shaws, known never to back down from a political fight, moved to the Far South Side and adjacent suburbs, where they organized African American voters into a force to be reckoned with.

While other lawmakers spoke and sat on the stage, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., in whose district the funeral took place, sat several rows back in the audience.

"From my perspective, this is about comforting the family, about them feeling good, not remembering the negative aspects of public service," said Jackson, (D) Chicago.

In 2000, Jackson alleged the Shaw brothers recruited a retired truck driver named Jesse Jackson to run in that year's Democratic primary against the congressman. Jackson then unleashed his political organization in a successful campaign to take William Shaw's state senate seat and Robert's seat on the board of review.

On Thursday afternoon, the Dolton police chief said Jackson wasn't on the stage and didn't speak only because the congressman did not ask.

"They wanted to say a few words. We never heard anything from the congressman at all, not even a condolence," said Robert Fox, Dolton police chief.

But Jackson said he was here like everyone else to celebrate Bill Shaw's life and that any misunderstanding of his purpose was just politics.

"In the process of helping people, people battle back and forth and they have their very legitimate disagreements. But they're never personal," Jackson said.

The funeral--preceded by a wake--went on for nearly four hours. At least two thousand mourners attended. linda, alan...there hadn't been much news about the feud in recent years but clearly the hard feelings haven't gone away.

Wednesday night, people who knew him paid their last respects at the New Zion Fellowship Church of Dolton.


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