'One of the few who carried the banner'

Curtis Shattuck is remembered by friends and colleagues

Posted: Sunday, September 02, 2001

Had it not been for a cadre of concerned citizens such as Curtis Shattuck, Juneau might lack jet service and the Legislature could be convening in Willow.

Shattuck died Aug. 24 at age 94, having spent most of his life - except for the years he attended the University of Washington School of Journalism - in the capital city. He left college temporarily to try his hand at reporting for the Juneau Empire for a couple of years. Then, after graduating, he worked at the insurance business founded by his father, Allen, who came to Juneau in 1887.

"He had been very low-profile for the last 25 years or so, but before that he was very active," said Curtis Shattuck's son Roger. "He put a lot of himself into a lot of different things."

Shattuck's activities included serving in the territorial House of Representatives from 1945-46 - the same term his father Allen was president of the territorial Senate.

Throughout his 50 years as a businessman, Curtis Shattuck was active in the Juneau Chamber of Commerce. In the 1930s, he was secretary of the territorial Chamber, forerunner of the state Chamber. He was chairman of the Chamber's Aviation Committee in the early '60s, when federal aviation officials advised Juneau that the mountains surrounding the city would prevent approval of jet aircraft service. The Aviation Committee, which also included New York Life insurance agent Les Spickler, arranged a meeting of interested parties that convinced the feds to change their position. Pan American jet service began Feb. 3, 1962, said former Pan Am field manager Fred Baxter Sr.

Keeping the capital in Juneau was another important cause for Shattuck. He worked with life insurance agent Bob Scott, attorney Bob Boochever, engineer Felix Toner and attorney Norman Banfield in the early '60s on the matter. The idea of a capital move raised its head again in 1973-74, and a formal committee, Alaskans United, forerunner of the Alaska Committee, was formed. Bill Corbus worked with Shattuck in what became an eight-year battle, raising money to fight the capital move.

"He was a person of very high integrity, a pillar of the community forever," said Corbus, president and general manager of AEL&P.

Corbus also fished with Shattuck, accompanying him and his son Roger on many fly-in trout expeditions. Shattuck's other pastimes included hiking, skiing, hunting, boating, traveling, gardening and golfing.

"He took his golf game very seriously and broke 80 occasionally," Roger Shattuck said. "He shot a 78 when he was age 79. Shooting your age is considered an accomplishment."

Lobbyist for the city Clark Gruening, who has been involved in recent battles to keep the capital in Juneau, called Shattuck a "pioneer combatant. We appreciate those who battled before us, especially as we now gear up for perhaps another one."

In his pre-teen years, Gruening was one of the "neighborhood gang" who played with Curt's sons Allen and Roger. "We broke tree branches, disturbed the lawn, raided gardens and had endless bean-shooting fights. We built a tree house on the property, and Curt allowed us to do all this with equanimity."

Don Abel, who grew up next door to the Shattucks, said Curtis Shattuck set a positive example.

"He always spoke directly to you even if you were a child. He had a positive impact on anything going on in Juneau, political or otherwise. I think he was one of the type of people who could make a community a success or not a success," Abel said.

When the Shattuck and Grummett insurance agencies merged in 1971, Curtis Shattuck became a partner with his sons and Roger and Mike Grummett. He retired in the mid-1970s, but continued as chairman of the board until his death and "always gave us his guidance and advice, and it was good, constructive advice," Roger Grummett said. Shattuck was an analytical, meticulous man who wrote abundant memos, nicknamed "Shat-o-grams."

"He was one of the building blocks of the community, not only locally through the Chamber of Commerce, the Boy Scouts and the Salmon Derby, but one of the organizers and early officers of the state association of insurance agents, now called the Alaska Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers. He then became the state national director, which is Alaska's representative to the national insurance organization. It was a very prestigious position," Grummett said.

"In small communities, there are only a few that carry the banner, and he always carried the banner," Grummett added.

Ann Chandonnet can be reached at achandonnet@juneauempire.com.

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