John C. Shabaz


June 25, 1931 - Aug. 31, 2012



John C. Shabaz, senior judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, passed away Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, surrounded by his loving family. 


Judge Shabaz was born in Milwaukee on June 25, 1931, the son of Cyrus D. and Harriet T. (Bottrell) Shabaz. He was a graduate of Nathan Hale High School and the University of Wisconsin. He served in the U.S. Army from 1954 to 1956. Shabaz joined his father’s West Allis law practice upon graduating from Marquette Law School in 1957. In 1964, he was elected to the Wisconsin state Assembly. He served as Republican floor leader from 1973 until 1981, when he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan as a federal district judge for the Western District of Wisconsin.


On Sept. 6, 1986, John married Patricia Doughty, formerly of Horicon. Together they raised two children, Emily and John. Upon taking senior status in 2009, Shabaz was able to spend more time at his beloved Okauchee Lake, where he continued to pursue his favorite pastimes of swimming, boating and fishing. He also loved walking the beach for hours and hours at his vacation spot in Highland Beach, Fla. Judge Shabaz shared the feelings attributed to Theodore Roosevelt in his poem “I Choose Not To Be A Common Man” (Google it).


Judge Shabaz is survived by his loving wife of 26 years, Patty of Madison; his children, Scott, Jeff, Emily and John; two sisters, Joanne (Wint) Gilman of Hendersonville, N.C., and Mary (Jim) Maiorano of New Berlin; and nieces and nephews. He is further survived by two sheepshead clubs in West Allis and Madison with members of questionable skill and many other treasured relatives, friends and colleagues. 


John was preceded in death by his parents and mother-in-law, Esther Doughty Luckhardt of Horicon. 


Visitation and services were held Tuesday, Sept. 4, at Eastside Evangelical Lutheran Church, 2310 Independence Lane, Madison, with the Rev. Glen Schmiege officiating. A private family interment will be held at a later date.


In lieu of flowers, donations to Eastside Lutheran School are welcome or to the charity of your choice.


The family would like to extend a special thank you to staff at Waunakee Manor for the loving care and attention given to John. You are truly a special group of people. We will dearly miss this uncommon man!


Cress Funeral Home of Madison is serving the family. For more information, call 608-249-6666 or visit online at