Walter Shatford

Walter ShatfordÂ’s legal and fundraising expertise was credited with helping to keep the Pasadena branch of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People afloat during turbulent times. (Los Angeles Times)

Walter T. Shatford II, an attorney for whom Pasadena City College named its library in recognition of his four decades of service on the school's boards, has died. He was 94.

Shatford, who was also a civil rights activist, died May 5 at his longtime home in Pasadena of complications related to old age, said his wife, Sara.

When the $16.5-million Shatford Library opened in 1993, the college's Board of Trustees decided to honor one of its own instead of naming the building after a donor.

"Mr. Shatford gave us a million dollars of service," said Jeanette Mann, the board's president. "We had great respect for his work. He was absolutely dedicated to civil rights and believed that education was the way to level the playing field."

A portrait of Shatford painted by his wife, Sara, hangs in the entry of the library's rotunda.

"He was thrilled," she said. "He said he'd rather have a library named after him than anything else in the world. He regarded them as the basis of learning."

In 1957, Shatford was elected to the Pasadena Board of Education, which then supervised elementary through college-level education. When what was then Pasadena Junior College split off in 1966, he left to serve on its board and stayed until 1997.

Keeping college affordable and cultivating a diverse campus population were two of Shatford's major themes, said John Martin, a board member.

"He had just incredible wit," said Martin, who joined the board in 1979. "The first thing he said to me was, 'There's a lot of things you gotta know, but the most important thing on a seven-member board is that you gotta know how to count to four.' "

Shatford's legal and fundraising expertise was credited with helping to keep the Pasadena branch of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People afloat during turbulent times. He served on its board for 43 years and in 1993 received its top award for service.

According to Joe Brown, president of the Pasadena branch of the NAACP, Shatford "was a part of the civil rights struggle long before it was very popular to be involved in a group that was not your ethnicity," the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported last year.

"He was one of those guiding lights," Brown said.

Walter Tyrrel Shatford II was born Dec. 21, 1914, in Philadelphia and moved to Monrovia as a child. His Canadian father helped develop parts of British Columbia.

He attended what is now Pasadena City College and earned a bachelor's degree in political science from UCLA in 1936.

He joined the Navy in 1941 and served mainly in San Francisco.

In 1945, he married Sara Brady and moved into her family's Craftsman home on Washington Boulevard in Pasadena. He lived there the rest of his life.

After the war, he returned to Stanford University and completed his law degree in 1946. He received a postgraduate law degree from USC in 1959.

With his brother, Henry, he opened a law firm in Temple City in 1947 and practiced until he was 90. After his brother left to become a judge, Shatford's son, Walter III, joined the firm. His son died of cancer in 2007.

An avid sports player and observer, Shatford broke his finger years ago playing volleyball. From then on, he playfully protected it during volleyball games by wearing a boxing glove on one hand.

In addition to his wife, Shatford is survived by three children: Sara Layne, a UCLA librarian; Thomas, an artist; and Russell, a hand surgeon; his brother, Henry; his sister, Beatrice; and two grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at All Saints Church, 132 N. Euclid Ave., Pasadena.

Instead of flowers, the family suggests donating to the Pasadena City College Foundation, 1570 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91106. Contributions will help establish a scholarship in Shatford's name.

valerie.nelson@latimes.com