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Helen Francis Backus Shapiro ’34

Helen Francis Backus Shapiro ’34, October 30, 2005, in Fairfax, California. Helen Shapiro received her B.A. in psychology from Reed, and then moved to Berkeley, California, where she took a job with the federal civil service. She was assigned to train Carl Shapiro for his position with the U.S. Naval shipyards, and their ensuing romance led to marriage in 1942. That same year, they moved into the Fairfax home they shared for 60 years. During WWII, Shapiro was a rural mail carrier in Fairfax; and later developed a career in real estate. At 58, she decided to become a lawyer, and attended Golden Gate University Law School with her daughter; both graduated with honors in 1972. Shapiro joined her husband’s law practice in San Anselmo, and she dedicated her career to representing the underdog. In 1995, she was one of five attorneys to receive the Barney Dreyfus Award for humanitarian service. Both she and her husband received the Wiley J. Manuel Award in 2002 for pro bono legal services. Her "abiding interest in justice" and her "fierce advocacy" were said to have made life better for a great number of individuals. Shapiro once stated, "Whatever ability I have to learn and to use what I learn I owe to Reed." Survivors include her husband, her daughter, two sons, 13 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Appeared in Reed magazine: February 2006

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