Lucille Pillatt, 92, first female juror in Georgia

December 27, 2005

Lucille Pillatt of Towson, an Illinois native who became the first woman juror in Georgia, died Friday at Genesis Eldercare Brightwood Center in Lutherville after a long illness. She was 92.

A homemaker who followed her husband, a shipyard manager, on assignments to New York, Texas and Georgia, Mrs. Pillatt was living in Savannah, Ga., in the early 1950s when she heard several cases as the state's first woman juror.

"That was not something women did, especially in the South," said her daughter, Mary P. Felter of Arnold. "My mother, being from Chicago originally, embraced it."

Born Christmas Day 1912 in Elmhurst, Ill., the eldest of the eight surviving children of Joseph John Schuch and Lucy Darmstadt Schuch, she graduated from Elmhurst High School and married Harold B. Pillatt in 1930.

At the height of the Great Depression, the couple made their way from Chicago to New York on a single-lane highway. From New York they moved to Baltimore County, where they lived on Wellington Road in Stoneleigh, and then to Savannah and Beaumont, Texas.

A Savannah neighbor once asked Mrs. Pillatt why she addressed their letter carrier, a black man named Geiger, as "mister," according to Mrs. Felter.

"To this woman, he was just Geiger," Mrs. Felter said. "My mother told her, `Any man who puts his four children through college is mister to me.' That was kind of shocking in her time."

The Pillatts returned to Baltimore in 1962, when Mr. Pillatt was appointed general manager of the Bethlehem Steel shipyard on Key Highway. He died in 1964.

Mrs. Pillatt was a member of Trinity Episcopal Church, where she volunteered in the thrift shop. She served on committees that arranged benefits for cultural institutions. An avid golfer who enjoyed playing bridge and working crossword puzzles, she was a member of the Baltimore Country Club and the Three Arts Club of Homeland. Mrs. Felter described her mother as a "very strong Republican" and an enthusiastic supporter of Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.

When she was in her 80s, Mrs. Pillatt began writing down stories from her life. She recalled being quarantined as a child after her brother contracted polio, getting dressed to see the pope visit Chicago, wearing a fur coat and hat on the streetcar en route to a meal at Baltimore's old Southern Hotel, and the death of her husband.

Her children collected the stories and bound them in a volume titled At the Drop of a Hat - a reference to her readiness to abandon what she was doing to speed to her husband's side when requested.

"She had a very friendly personality, warm and welcoming to strangers," Mrs. Felter said. "She was a lady."

Services are private.

In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Pillatt is survived by two other daughters, Lucille P. Crumling of Baldwin and Barbara P. Resnick of Orinda, Calif.; a son, Harold B. Pillatt II of Baldwin; three siblings; five grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.

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