Obituary of Mr. Kevin Shea

April 3, 2020

Kevin Christopher Shea, 60, was born on May 24, 1959 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Kevin died on April 3, 2020 in New York City. Kevin was predeceased by his parents Donald and Dorothy Shea, both of Eau Claire, WI.

Kevin was the seventh of nine children born to Donald and Dorothy Shea. He is survived by all of his siblings: three sisters, Karen Shea Dufresne and husband Richard (Sharon NH); Julie and husband Dean Sperry (Shorewood WI); Mary Shea (Milwaukee WI); and five brothers, Dennis Shea and wife Luanne (Eau Claire WI); James Shea and wife Susan (Elk Mound WI); John Shea (his wife SueEllen predeceased Kevin) (Eau Claire WI); Joseph Shea and wife Mary (Milwaukee WI); Jerome Shea and wife Heidi (Eau Claire WI). Kevin is also survived by many nephews and nieces whom he loved deeply: Mikki, Danette(deceased), Brendan Shea(Anne), Rebecca Shea Pirkey(Ben), Donovan and Michael Shea, Eileen Shea, Connor(Jennifer), Kevin's namesake Kieven, and Aiden Sperry, Cooper and Caelan Shea, and Kaelie Shea. Grand nieces and nephews: Harry and Alexandria Shea, Mikayla, Sofia, Sami and Quincy Payne and Hunter Pirkey.

Kevin graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1983. After undergrad studies, Kevin moved to NYC and began a career as an architectural consultant and expeditor. He became an expert regarding NYC zoning ordinances and building codes. He started a consulting business working with architects and builders to obtain the permits and approvals necessary to keep building NYC.

Kevin changed careers and attended New York University School of Law, earning a Juris Doctor degree in 1996. Kevin practiced Litigation law in NYC. He worked for two highly respected NYC law firms: Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and Dewey Ballantine LLP.

Subsequent to his law career Kevin reprised his role as an architectural consultant working for his own firm. Kevin left the law profession because expediting provided a greater opportunity to affect change aligned with his commitment to justice and social responsibility. Kevin revered the NYC building code because it improved the livability, safety and architectural beauty of NYC as well as improved the quality of life for ordinary citizens.

Kevin was a true New Yorker. His love and knowledge of NYC was deep and extensive. He knew the entire NYC Subway system from memory. He was an outstanding host and tour guide for anyone visiting the city. His love of architecture and historical curiosity took him to the great cities of Europe where he explored art, food, buildings and of course libations. He grew to love Rome and Paris and visited them many times.

Kevin's life of generosity, hard work and steadfast courage benefited his family, friends and causes he cherished. Kevin was a keen and insightful observer of the human condition and many other topics. Kevin was an amazing and riveting storyteller. Family and friends looked forward to, and could never hear enough, of Kevin's vivid accounts of events in his life and his insights. His joy and enthusiasm for life was a blessing he shared with all who knew him.

Kevin was the heart of the Shea-Sperry-Dufresne family. He kept the families close and connected. Whenever his work allowed Kevin attended important family events: graduations, weddings, holidays, gatherings at the Shea Cabin in Namakagon, family vacations at Cape Cod, NOLA, Palm Desert. Kevin, ever supportive of loved ones, added clergy to his lengthy resume as the officiant at the wedding of his nephew Connor. Kevin always put the needs of the extended family above his needs.

Kevin cherished his New York Family and they supported and loved him. His many friends include Arthur Fox and Frederico Farina, Jonathan Walker and Jennifer Van Dyck, Eileen Thomas, Steven Druckman, all of NYC and Louise Young of Madison, WI and NYC nephew and niece Theodore Mikesell and Olivia Thomas. The New York Family stepped in and cared for Kevin when COVID-19 prevented other family members from travelling to NYC. Kevin's Wisconsin-New Hampshire family is deeply grateful for the comfort and critical assistance given by the New York Family. The Wisconsin-New Hampshire Family cannot thank the New York Family enough for giving the peace of mind produced by knowing that Kevin was well taken care of during his time of greatest need.

For the last six years of his life Kevin endured a long battle with colon cancer. He fought the good fight with grace and fortitude. He was grateful for the compassionate and excellent care from his oncology team led by Dr. Peter Kozuch. He lived his life fully for as long as his body allowed. Due to Kevin's strength and determination his family and friends received the gift of his presence and participation in our lives despite his arduous illness. For that we are eternally grateful.

A celebration of Kevin's life is pending due to the public health situation in USA.

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Kevin was such a joyful loving person. His whole life he seemed to smile and have a twinkle in his eye and shared spry funny comments that had the people around him smiling and laughing. Keep his energy alive in you.

Posted by: Janna Sperry Sundby - Wayzata, MN - April 10, 2020

You were an extraordinary man, Kevin, and the world will be poorer without your boundless spirit.

Posted by: Andrew Boynton - New York, NY - April 11, 2020

It was my great privilege to count myself among Kevin's circle of friends. His infectious enthusiasms for politics, big cities and fine dining, among many other things, will be with me the rest of my life. Forever New York and Rome will bring a train of wonderful memories of time with Kevin. I uploaded a photo taken during our trip to Rome in February, when we embraced his passion for Roman churches and Caravaggio.

Posted by: Louise Young - Madison, WI - April 12, 2020

My heartfelt sympathy to the Shea family. Kevin was one of those not-to-be-forgotten bright lights. I remember the special bond he had with his sister Julie, and his brilliant mind. What a loss.

This obituary was one of the most well written that I've ever read. Even though I hadn't seen Kevin for many years, I felt like I shared his accomplishments, passion for life, and world travels.

May God give you his peace and comfort during this time of sorrow.

Posted by: Diane Nelson - Eau Claire, WI - May 1, 2020

I knew Kevin early in my life - all through elementary and high school. I counted him as a friend but like so many early friends those relationships fell by the wayside. In reading about his life I grieve the man I did not know. His life was so well lived! What an inspiration for those of us left behind to make the most of what we are given. When I read about his interests and politics I would like to believe we would be friends still.
My heart aches for his family and friends. There is no doubt he knew he was loved.

Well done

Posted by: Sue Barrett - Mora, MN - May 2, 2020

I got to know Kevin in Madison through Louise and later when we lived in NYC.
After returning to Madison I saw him less frequently, but by good fortune was able to spend a few days with him in Rome in February.
I'll miss him.

Posted by: Geoffrey Chambers - Madison, WI - May 11, 2020

I just found about Kevin's passing from a third party. He was an ever present part of our group of expediters of the same age, all of us ready to retire from the stresses of working with the Department of Buildings within the next few years if not tomorrow. He was always smiling, always upbeat and always laughing. He had a great sense of humor and a grace about him that allowed him to function effortlessly and very effectively at the DOB. I knew that he was battling cancer and I was hoping that he would win the battle. I am so sorry that he's gone. He was a very special person. He was a wonderful colleague.

Posted by: David Trachtenberg - New ork, NY - August 2, 2020