Bill Shull’s 42-year career arc began and ended at the Legal Aid of Western Missouri in Warrensburg. At 71 years old, he died June 30.
Shull earned his law degree at the University of Missouri in 1979. That same year, he started working for Legal Aid and never stopped. He later became managing attorney of the Warrensburg office, a position he held for 35 years.
The organization created the role of legal trainer just for Shull in the last few years. Executive Director Alicia Johnson said that Shull worked from Warrensburg and also received calls at all hours from Legal Aid’s offices in Joplin, St. Joseph and Kansas City.
“We knew he had this amazing talent to help and mentor those of us that were working through difficult and unique issues,” Johnson said.
Johnson said hearing Shull’s legal advice required writing notes at “a million miles a minute” because of his lightning-speed delivery. He also went above and beyond for his clients, driving them to homeless shelters after a meeting if needed.
About 54 people who had known Shull commented on the organization’s Facebook post announcing his death. Shull is survived by his wife Margaret Shull, a university professor, and his son Henry Shull. Outside of his work, he played the fiddle.
Shull had been opposing counsel to Joe Dandurand since 1980, when Dandurand began practicing law in Warrensburg. During Dandurand’s 21 years as the elected circuit judge in Cass and Johnson counties, Shull represented clients before his bench. Dandurand said the work that Shull invested in his cases exhausted opposing counsel and trial judges alike.
As Dandurand considered leaving his position as a deputy attorney general, Shull convinced Dandurand to apply for the then-vacant role of executive director, in which Dandurand remained for five years.
When he had just become executive director, Dandurand asked Shull about his retirement plans. Shull said he hoped to be found slumped at his desk one day.
“He left the practice of law the way he wanted to,” Dandurand said.
Shull had prepared for a Thursday, June 30 appointment at 9 a.m. but never showed up. He had died the night before at home.
“He would have made a lot of money in the private practice of law, because of his talent and his determination, but this is what he wanted to do,” Dandurand said. “And I can tell you, the whole western part of the state is going to be at a loss trying to fill his shoes.”