Preserving the Past, Informing the Future
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Harrison Tweed Sheldon, a member of the New Haven County Bar since 1908, a lawyer of distinction and a citizen of the highest character, died at his home in New Haven, May 1st, 1933. His death followed a long and painful illness endured by him with characteristic bravery and patience, and brought deep and lasting sorrow to an exceptionally wide circle of associates and friends.
Mr. Sheldon was born in New Haven, March 7th, 1883, the son of Theodore H. Sheldon and Emily Winthrop (Tweed) Sheldon, and throughout his lifetime was a resident of the city of his birth. He graduated from Yale College in the Class of 1905 and from the Yale Law School in 1908. Shortly after leaving Law School he entered the office of Watrous and Day, became a member of the firm on March 1st, 1914, and continued as a partner until the time of his death, the firm being then known as Watrous, Hewitt, Sheldon and Gumbart.
During his early days of practice Mr. Sheldon's work was largely devoted to the preparation and trial of cases in which his painstaking preparation, his attention to every detail, his keen understanding of the legal points involved and his faculty for separating the essential from the trivial, brought to him a high degree of success. From the start of his professional life he displayed those qualities of sound thinking, keen analysis, firm conviction and practical good sense which won and held for him a high place in the affection of his brother lawyers, the respect of the Bench and the complete confidence of his clients. He was a thorough, earnest and sound student of the law.
As his practice developed, and particularly in later years when his health had become somewhat impaired, he devoted himself more especially to office practice and corporation law and he was equally capable and equally successful in this branch of his profession. He was recognized by all who came in contact with him as one who could be thoroughly trusted for sound advice and for honorable conduct in all things.
In spite of his devotion to his chosen profession, Mr. Sheldon had a wide range of interests. His life was full and rich. In his earlier years particularly, he was fond of mountain-climbing, fishing, canoeing and outdoor life in general and he never lost his keen enjoyment in traveling abroad. He was interested in art in many forms, was for a time a student in the Yale Art School and a member of the Art Commission of the City of New Haven. During the World War he devoted himself unsparingly to the public good wherever he could be of the most service, being active in Draft Board work, as a "Four Minute Speaker" in the various Liberty Bond campaigns, on various committees aiding in the preparation and education of drafted men and as a member of the Connecticut State Guard.
He was a member of the American Bar Association, the Connecticut State Bar Association, the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, the New Haven County Bar Association, the Graduate Club, the Quinnipiack Club, the New Haven Lawn Club, Little Theatre Guild, Paint and Clay Club, Yale Alumni Association and the Benchers. He was for many years a director of The First National Bank and Trust Company of New Haven and of the Geometric Tool Company.
For some ten years before his death he suffered from asthma, which interfered greatly with his enjoyment of life and at times handicapped him severely in the practice of his profession but, although this malady gradually grew more serious, he not only endured the affliction without complaint, but with cheerful and unflinching courage and persisted almost to the last in handling his legal work with the same patience, fidelity and efficiency which had always characterized him. He never surrendered. For some weeks before the end it was obvious that he realized his serious condition but though he made careful and thorough preparation of his affairs, he never conceded defeat.
His characteristics as counsellor and friend were well summed up by one of his closest associates as follows:
"Any question on which his advice or opinion was sought received his serious consideration. Whatever the matter under discussion, he always had something to contribute. He let no one do his thinking for him, accepted no man's opinion unless he weighed it for himself and found it worthy. His judgments were deliberately arrived at and he was not easily shaken in them, but he was wholly lacking in self-conceit and fair to those who disagreed with him. He was dependable as an advisor, delightful as a companion, wholly loyal as a friend."
He left surviving him Alice Cooper (Stanton) Sheldon to whom he was married August 15th, 1915, and a daughter, Anne Dudley Sheldon, born November 13th, 1916.