John Shavers Jr., 50, state law official, advocate for children


John Shavers Jr., a retired state assistant attorney general, died of complications from diabetes Thursday at Northwest Hospital Center. The Baltimore native, who lived in Gwynn Oak, was 50.

Mr. Shavers, who was known to family and friends by his childhood name of "Tweedy," devoted his professional life to working with children.

A sister, Denise Shavers of New York, said, "He talked about being an advocate for children, to make sure their voices and needs were taken care of."

He grew up in Ashburton and attended St. Cecilia and All Saints schools. He was a 1973 graduate of Cardinal Gibbons High School.

He earned a bachelor's degree in psychology in 1976 from Cornell University, where he was a four-year starter as an offensive tackle and a member of the Red Key Honor Society.

After college, Mr. Shavers was recruited to try out for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, said his sister Karen Shavers-Bailey of Baltimore. But he instead went to work in 1976 as a juvenile counselor with the Chesapeake Foundation for Human Development in Brooklyn, where he developed therapeutic treatment plans for disadvantaged youths. For about two years in the late 1970s, he played semiprofessional football with the Baltimore Warriors, his family said.

From 1981 to 1988, he was a juvenile counselor for the Department of Juvenile Services.

In 1991, Mr. Shavers graduated cum laude from Southern University School of Law, where he was president of the Black Law Students Association and executive editor of the law review. He began his law career at the firm of Adams and Reese in New Orleans.

In 1993, he returned to Baltimore and became a staff attorney in the child advocacy unit of the Legal Aid Bureau. He later became a staff attorney with the Baltimore City Department of Social Services. In 1999, he was appointed an assistant attorney general with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. He retired in 2002 because of his illness.

Mr. Shaver coached Little League in Forest Park and worked as a referee for the Maryland Scholastic Association for several years.

He was an avid golfer and sports fan whose favorite teams were the Ravens and Yankees. He also enjoyed all kinds of music and dancing.

"He was just a lover of life," Ms. Shavers-Bailey said. "He really enjoyed going out and having a good time."

Mr. Shavers was a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, the William F. Taylor Lodge No. 57 and the Prince Hall Masons. He joined the Jerusalem Temple No. 4 Prince Hall Shriners in 2001. He later held office in the Joseph L.H. Smith Lodge No. 54.

Mr. Shavers was married to Clarissa Agee in 1986. The marriage ended in divorce in 2001.

A service will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Masonic temple at 1301 Eutaw Place.

In addition to his sisters, he is survived by his mother, Irene C. Shavers, and a brother, Lawrence Shavers, both of Baltimore.

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