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Northern Illinois

Gene Kwas
Gene Kwas
Eugene Stanley Kwasniewski “Gene Kwas” died Nov. 16, 2012, in his home in Austin, Texas.

Gene Kwas, to all who knew and loved him, was born Eugene Stanley Kwasniewski on Oct. 14, 1922, the middle of seven boys, to Joseph and Josephine Kwasniewski.

Though he couldn’t speak English until second grade, athletic ability earned him many sports letters in Evanston Township High School. His strength was speed, breaking the 100-yard dash time in high school in under 10 seconds, bettering Jim Thorpe’s record. He attended a state dinner with the governor, unheard of for an immigrant’s son, and received a football scholarship to the University of Illinois. He did not become an opera singer, as encouraged by the choir mistress of Evanston HS Elite Concert Choir.

World War II interrupted his sophomore year in college, sending him to the Air Force, a “90 day wonder,” drafted and “instantly” made an officer. A bombardier at age 19, he was taught how to fly a B-17 bomber, and was off to Bari, Italy.

The War over, the decorated war veteran resumed his career as a football halfback hero, with a win against UCLA in the Rose Bowl of 1947. Playing poker nights, he was able to fund his law degree in 1950, then practiced law in Peru to be close to his college sweetheart. Gene married Lillian Marie Forcht in 1950, a happy 63-year union.

Gene joined the FBI, assigned to San Mateo, Calif., where daughter Anne was born. He was a special agent for five years during the McCarthy era.

George M. Shur
George M. Shur
George Michael Shur, 70, of DeKalb, IL, died Sunday, Nov. 25 in Chicago. Born in 1942 in Portland, ME, to Barnett and Clarice (Geller) Shur, George spent his childhood in Portland and attended Colby College, then Boston University School of Law.

He returned to Portland and joined the law firm of Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer, and Nelson, where he later became partner. In 1970, he met Martha West. From their first date on Valentine's Day she remained the love of his life, and they were blessed to celebrate their 42nd anniversary November 14.

RIchard Schmack
RIchard Schmack
Richard Schmack was elected DeKalb County State's Attorney on November 6, 2012. 

Richard received his undergraduate degrees in History and Political Science from North Central College in 1977, his J.D. from the University of Illinois Law School, in 1980, and has been an attorney in Illinois since that time. He was an Assistant State' Attorney in DeKalb County from 1985 - 1989, served as the Village Attorney for Kirkland, and has been in private practice since 1989 in Sycamore.

He is a member of the Illinois State Bar Association, the American Bar Association and the DeKalb County Bar Association.

Richard and his wife of 27 years, Jackie, live in Sycamore with their two adult sons, Eric, 25, and Ben, 23.

Adam Jeffrey Brenner, 45, was found dead Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012, in his Rockford home. The cause of death was heart disease and he passed quickly, perhaps in his sleep. He leaves behind memories of his capacity for love, his innate kindness, his wit and intelligence, his dedication to the law he practiced, his courage to be his own man, his disdain for those who would hurt the ones who love them.

His parents, Martin Brenner, Rockford, and Ghia and Allan Ackerman, Chicago, will miss him all the days of our lives. Also mourning his death are multiple relatives and friends who knew him for the unique and vibrant young man he was. May his energy combine with the universe to make it a better place.

Services have been held. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation of goods or money to the Rockford food pantry of your choice. In his life as a lawyer, Adam often served the poor. We think it would make him happy to know that his death helped to also feed them.

Mario J. Perez
Mario J. Perez
Mario J. Perez, 77, of Woodstock, passed away Oct. 31, 2012, at home surrounded by his family after succumbing to prostate cancer.

He was born Jan. 19, 1935, in Seneca, to Carmen and José Perez, who immigrated to the U.S. in the early 1900s from Guanajuato, Mexico. He was raised in Marseilles, before moving to Chicago in the 1940s.

On May 8, 1965, he married Esther Peterson of Ames, Iowa, at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Chicago.

Mario attended St. Patrick's Academy at Adams and DesPlaines streets in Chicago on a basketball scholarship and graduated in 1953, University of Illinois, Navy Pier, from 1953-55 and graduated from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, in 1957 with a major in history and minor in anthropology. He obtained his Juris Doctor from DePaul University College of Law in 1960. He was a member of Phi Alpha Delta law fraternity and served in the U.S. Army Reserves.

In 1960, he began practicing law in Chicago at CNA Insurance Co. After nine years in Chicago, he moved to Woodstock to work at the law offices of Josyln and Green. Soon thereafter, he started a private practice in Woodstock that he continued until 2012. From the late 70s to early 90s, he also operated an office in Waukegan.

Richard S. Brennan
Richard S. Brennan

Richard S. Brennan, 74, of Amboy, died Oct. 10, 2012, after a three-week illness.

Mr. Brennan was born March 18, 1938, in St. Louis, the only son of Anna Pearl and Clarence R. Brennan. In 1963 he married Margaret (Jill) Wilson in Muskegon, Mich.

The family lived in Collinsville, Mo., and Memphis, Tenn. before settling permanently in Shorewood, a suburb of Milwaukee, Wis. Mr. Brennan received a BA from Princeton University in 1960 and a law degree from the University of Michigan in 1963.

He and his wife moved to New York City where Mr. Brennan began his law career with Shearman & Sterling. Two years later they transferred to Mayer Brown in Chicago, where he continued his long career. In 1969, the family, which now included two sons, was transferred to the Paris office of Mayer Brown, where they spent three years and had one more child, a daughter.

They returned to the U.S. in 1972, but were reassigned to London, England in 1974 to move the Paris office to London. That practice, of which Mr. Brennan was the leading partner, now numbers hundreds of lawyers. Mr. Brennan returned to Chicago in 1977 and in 1982 became the General Counsel of the Continental Bank. He remained General Counsel throughout the bank's transition into Bank of America, leaving in 1994. Mr. Brennan retained Mayer Brown as his base but served as General Counsel for J.I. Case in Racine, Wis., from 1995 - 1999, when it was purchased by Fiat. He subsequently served as temporary General Counsel for Stepan Company for three years.

Jacob J. Frost
Jacob J. Frost
Jacob J. Frost has formed a new law practice in Spring Valley. He serves individual and corporate clients with expertise in estate planning, real estate, elder law, banking, business, and other fields.    

Mr. Frost is a double graduate of University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana; he received his Juris Doctorate in 2006 and his B.A. in Political Science in 2003. He also received his A.A., summa cum laude, in 2001 from Illinois Valley Community College. He is active in the Illinois State Bar Association Trusts & Estates Section Council and has served as co-chairman of its Newsletter Committee for a number of years.

Mr. Frost may be reached at (815) 323-4851.

Here are the results for Tuesday's judicial elections for all circuits outside of Cook.

Click here for the 1st District results

Candidates must receive 65% on the question of Meets Requirements of Office in order to be Recommended. Winners in bold


4th District Supreme Retention

Candidate Recommended/ Not Recommended Meets Requirements of Office
Rita B. Garman R 95.87

August B. Black passed away on October 20, 2012. August (Augie) was born in Morris, Illinois on August 1, 1915, the son of Frank Black and Kate (Ryan) Black.

Augie graduated from Morris High School in 1933. He attended St. Viator's College and graduated from the University of Illinois College of Law in 1940. He was admitted to the practice of law in 1940. He served 51 months in the U.S. Army during World War II as a Special Military Intelligence Agent.

Augie and his brother, John Black, formed the law partnership of Black & Black in 1947, and Black & Black has continued with sons George, Frank, Donald, Richard, James, and grandsons, Timothy and Bryan Black. Augie Black was elected State's Attorney of Grundy County in 1948. He was re-elected 3 times for 16 years of public service. He became President of the Illinois State's Attorney's Association.

Augie married Marie Weber of Bellwood, Illinois on October 19, 1944. He is survived by Marie and their 9 children: George, Don, (Kathy), Frank, Jean, Ed, Linda, Jim (Marifran), Michael (Tricia), and Richard. Also surviving are his sister, Sister Lorraine Black, Sisters of The Holy Cross, Notre Dame, Indiana; 11 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren; many nieces and nephews.

The Illinois State Bar Association's Special Committee on Law School Debt, formed by President John E. Thies, will hold five open hearings throughout the state. ISBA members are encouraged to attend these meetings to discuss how increasing law school debt is impacting the delivery of legal services.

The Committee is particularly interested in hearing about the impact of law school debt in the following situations:

  1. Recruitment and retention of new lawyers in small- and medium-size firms
  2. Decisions by lawyers to open practices in small communities
  3. Recruitment and retention of new lawyers working for legal aid organizations
  4. Financial ability of new lawyers to open solo practices (and possible liability and ethical consequences resulting there from);
  5. Availability of lawyers being willing to perform pro bono services;
  6. Opportunity for new lawyers to advance from entry level positions in the profession.

Hearing Schedule

The hearings will held from 2 to 4 p.m. at the following locations: