A prominent lawyer in Sault Ste. Marie is being remembered by clients, colleagues and family members as a fierce and passionate advocate in the courtroom who was taken far too soon.
Shadrach ‘Shad’ McCooeye died Tuesday. He was 37 years old.
He is survived by parents Susan and Eric, siblings Mary Margaret and Luke, and his dog Max, according to his obituary.
Eric McCooeye, a high-profile lawyer in the Sault who shared a law practice with his son, says the tight-knit family routinely enjoyed having dinner together at the family home.
He says that Shad enjoyed hunting, fishing and taking his motorcycle out for road trips during his personal time away from work.
“He was really an outdoors guy — he did bow hunting, he had a crossbow. He had all things that go with the north, he was that kind of guy,” his father said, in an interview with SooToday.
Susan added that her son was "very protective" of his friends and always “kept them close.”
“He wasn’t an angel — he got into trouble from time to time, but his heart was always in the right place,” his mother said.
Eric says his son was a “zealous advocate” for his clients and was considered by many folks as a “champion of the underdog,” as many of his court cases dealt with children’s aid.
“That’s a very hard part of the profession — you don’t win very often, let’s put it that way,” he said. “It’s a really difficult side of the profession, and there’s a lot to do in the Sault because of that.
“He was a real champion, I think, of a lot of people. I think that’s the way they would think of him. And he was pleasant. No one has a word to say to suggest he was in any way brusk or mean.”
Shad’s death has also impacted the legal community in the Sault, as well as the clients he served.
“I’ve known Shad for years, and he was a phenomenal lawyer,” said lawyer Anthony Orazietti, who is one of McCooeye’s longtime friends. “He was a great person, you can’t say enough about the guy.
“He’d go above and beyond for anyone, not just his clients but everyone in general. He always had a big smile on his face. He would make the time for anyone.”
Orazietti says that on a personal level, his friend’s death “hits pretty close to home.”
“It was such a shock to everyone,” said Orazietti. “I went and drove by his house, because I didn’t believe it. No one saw this coming — I mean, I certainly didn’t.”
Sarah Stefanich was Shad’s client for four years while she was dealing with a separation and divorce. She recalls her former lawyer as professional, yet “very easy to talk to and understanding.”
“Shad is literally the best person you could have to talk to, and to take your case on,” she said.
Stefanich learned of Shad's death the following day, and still finds the news hard to believe.
“He was just a genuinely kind soul that just wanted the best for me and my kids,” she said, with emotion taking over her voice momentarily. “I was just really lucky to have him in my corner.”
And Shad was very much in the corner of the Sault’s legal community as well.
“He always made time, and not just me — I know lots of our colleagues felt the exact same way,” said Orazietti. “He was someone you could always count on. He never cast any judgment, even if you were coming to him with a personal matter.
“The good ones go too soon, you know?”