facebook tracking pixel Grass Valley attorney, civic leader Ray Shine dies | TheUnion.com

Grass Valley attorney, civic leader Ray Shine dies

Lorraine Jewett
Special to The Union
Ray Shine, who died over the weekend, "was respected by everyone. ... He was also one of the kindest people I’ve known. In my presence, I never heard Ray say an unkind word about anyone,” said childhood friend Marcie Ellers.
The Union file photo/John Hart | The Union

Ray Shine, civic leader and prominent attorney, has died.

Shine was 69. He is survived by his wife of 20 years, Amy, and two daughters, 19-year-old Molly and 17-year-old Sarah.

“My husband looked at the world through rose-colored glasses and could find flaw in no one,” said Amy. “Grass Valley will be the lesser with his passing.”

Shine was a Nevada Union High School graduate. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1970, then attended UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law where he earned his Juris Doctor degree in 1973. While an undergrad, he was a member of ROTC, the Reserve Officer Training Corps. He was a first lieutenant in the Army Reserve Ordnance Corps and received an honorable discharge in 1978.

Shine practiced law for 45 years.

Attorney Joe Bell recently recorded a four-and-a-half hour interview with Shine for the Nevada County Bar Association’s History and Archives Project.

“Ray did civil law including real estate and advising Realtors and homeowners’ associations. He did criminal law, many jury trails, and serious criminal cases including murder. He also did juvenile and family law,” said Bell. “He offered pro bono legal service work throughout his career.”

Richard Ellers recalls helping to steer Shine into a legal career.

“I remember when I first came to Nevada County as a lawyer, Ray had just graduated from Berkeley,” said Ellers. “Ray came to see me and asked if he should go to law school. I said to him, ‘If there’s anyone who should go to law school, it’s you.’ Ever since then we were great friends. He was a great lawyer and had a sharp legal mind. He was good at resolving legal problems rather than making them worse. We will all miss him terribly.”

‘A True, genuine friend’

For nearly 30 years, former Nevada County Superintendent of Schools Terry McAteer knew Shine both socially and professionally.

“He was a true, genuine friend,” said McAteer. “A guy who would bend over backwards for you. A real sweetheart down to his soul.

“He was also a political junkie, loved politics and talking politics. I always looked to Ray for political advice through the years because he could always give me a unique perspective on it.”

Shine’s perspicacity was also valued by Scott Browne, one of Shine’s former law partners.

“He was always a good person to talk to and get a different point of view,” said Browne. “I remember when I became his law partner in 1978, he told me there were two rules. One, I had to wear a tie every day because I looked too young and people would never believe I was an attorney. And two, he said ‘Never write a letter to the editor.’ He said the community is too small and you don’t want to make a bunch of people angry. He was very supportive during those early years, and I’m so grateful for that.”

Before retiring Dec. 31, Shine enjoyed helping clients at his law office in the Old Post Office Building in downtown Grass Valley. That was also the scene of his annual St. Patrick’s Day bash, a legendary affair for 40 years that drew hundreds of guests. Shine personally prepared corned beef sandwiches to serve with Guinness beer and whiskey.

“He was a fun-loving guy,” said long-time friend Nancy Chandler. “He was civic minded. He’d have parties at his house that were usually connected to a fundraiser for nonprofits. He was very intellectual. You could have political repartee with Ray, and it was fun, not crazy like it is now.”

Lifelong connections

Attorney Nanci Clinch knew Shine for 65 years.

“We were childhood friends,” she recalled. “When his family moved to Grass Valley in the early 1950s, my sisters and I went to Ray’s fifth birthday party. We were friends ever since.

“He loved his Irish heritage. He loved his time at Cal and the football team. He loved doing things with people. He loved connections and being around people. He wasn’t known just as Ray Shine. He was ‘Ray Shine, the Smart One.’ He spent a lot of time working on nonprofit boards, but he never bragged about it. He was always doing good things for people.”

Another childhood friend, Marcie Ellers, said Shine was always cheerful and jovial.

“Ray was a most gracious and generous host,” said Ellers. “He was respected by everyone. He threw enormous parties, as anyone who attended one of his St. Patrick’s Day or Fourth of July extravaganzas can attest. He was also one of the kindest people I’ve known. In my presence, I never heard Ray say an unkind word about anyone.”

Craig Diamond said he and Shine were law partners from 1981 to 1995, and “friends forever.”

“Besides being one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, he was also one of the most generous I’ve ever met,” said Diamond. “He was always giving.

“Ray always hosted a huge St. Patrick’s Day party. One year, he decided not to host a party but hundreds of people showed up anyway. He was scurrying around to make that party happen.”


Shine was a 20-year member of Emmanuel Episcopal Church, served on the board of Mount Saint Mary’s Academy, and was deeply involved in the Native Sons of the Golden West, Empire Club, Historical Society, and Bohemian Club. He served two years on the Nevada County Board of Education.

He held a variety of offices with the Nevada County Bar from 1974-2011, including president in 1976-77. He volunteered as a Judge Pro Tem, arbitrator and mediator for Nevada County courts, and served as president and director of Nevada County Legal Aid. He served on the Nevada County Grand Jury. Shine ran unsuccessfully for public office twice: Nevada County Superior Court Judge and District Attorney.

Shine taught real estate and consumer law at Sierra College 1976-1993. He was president of the Friends of Nevada County Military. He was active in the Cal Alumni Association and headed its essay-writing scholarship program.

Shine helped found the Neighborhood Center of the Arts in 1984, a creative organization for developmentally disabled adults. He was founding president of Nevada County’s United Way. Shine was also a staunch supporter of Grass Valley’s annual Donation Day parade and the event’s subsequent food donations to less fortunate families.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Friday at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, 235 S. Church St., Grass Valley. Amy Shine said a “good, ol’ fashioned Irish wake” will follow at a date to be determined.

Lorraine Jewett is a freelance writer who lives in Nevada County. She can be reached at LorraineJewettWrites@gmail.com.

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