Merle Haggard sang, "The roots of my raising run deep." So do Ken Shigley's.
His rural childhood home was a modest cement block two bedroom, but full of love. His dad and uncle, WWII combat veterans, built it on weekends one pickup truck load of materials per payday. The house included an indoor toilet and a black and white TV by the time Ken started school. As educators his parents tried hard to expose him to academic and cultural opportunities. (Dad was principal of a 12 grade country school and mom was a teacher.) And yes, car buffs, that is a '53 Studebaker.
Now this "country boy come to town" is running for a rare open seat on the Georgia Court of Appeals.
By the time he entered high school, the Shigley family moved to the bigger town of Douglasville. At Douglas County High School, he was student body president, and selected for Governor's Honors Program and as one of two high school seniors from Georgia chosen for the U.S. Senate Youth Program.
After graduating from Furman University and Emory University Law School, Ken Shigley went back home to take a job as an Assistant District Attorney. He prosecuted cases of murder, armed robbery, rape, child molestation, arson, burglary, drug dealing, embezzlement, and more. During that time, he was chosen as the "Outstanding Young Man" in Douglas County. After leaving the District Attorney's office he worked in small town general law practice until he was recruited to join an Atlanta law firm.
As a young lawyer Ken Shigley worked his way up from associate to name partner in an Atlanta law firm where he defended civil suits for insurance companies and state and local governments in courts all over Georgia.
After ten years in that firm, he launched his own small firm to represent individuals, families and small businesses in insurance, injury and wrongful death cases.
He has spent 40 years laboring in the trenches a practicing lawyer in a variety of contexts.
Ken and Sally Shigley were married almost 34 years before she departed this life after a 29-year battle with recurring meningioma brain tumors. After exhausting all surgery, radiation and chemotherapy options, she died peacefully in home hospice care on June 17, 2017, with Mr. Shigley at her side.
The day she began hospice care, Sally Shigley told her husband, "Don't quit that judge race." A month after her death, he resumed groundwork for this campaign.
Sally and Ken had two children who are now adults.
Anne, 30, is married and lives in New Hampshire. She a paraprofessional in an elementary school and her husband is a telecommunications engineer at Dartmouth College. They attend Riverbank Church on the VT/NH border, which was launched as a mission of Northpoint Church in Alpharetta.
Ken Jr., 28, owns a fitness training business in Brookhaven and attends Passion City Church in Atlanta with his girlfriend.
State Bar President
In 2011-12, Ken Shigley served as president of the 45,000 member State Bar of Georgia, which includes all lawyers and judges admitted to practice in Georgia. That virtually full-time volunteer job involved intense involvement with leaders of all branches of state government, and oversight of scores of committees and sections, three offices and a staff of 75. Completion of the five year cycle of State Bar leadership posts provides a "45,000 foot perspective" on Georgia's legal system.
During his term as president he launched the "Next Generation Courts Commission" to bring together lawyers, judges from all classes of courts, court clerks and administrators, and myriad other stakeholders in the justice system to explore what the court system should look like in 20 years. This was chaired by Superior Court Judge Lawton Stephens of Athens.
At the end of his term as State Bar president, the Judicial Nominating Commission put Mr. Shigley on the "short list" for appointment to the Court of Appeals.
Ken Shigley was raised Methodist, and for the past 35 years has been an active member of Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta. He has served as an elder, teacher, stewardship chair, and currently is a trustee of the Peachtree Trust which manages bequests to the church's endowment fund.