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Shelley Jean Kravitz ‘75

Miami-Dade County Judge Shelley Jean Kravitz passed away on January 2, 2018, in Miami Beach, FL. Shelley was born on August 9, 1953 in Miami Beach. In an early sign of how she would live her life, Shelley's birth took place on a hospital elevator as she just did not want to wait she did things on her own terms from her first breath to her last.

Shelley grew up in Hialeah, FL, with her lawyer father, Harold, schoolteacher mother, Betty, and brother Richard. At a young age, Shelley became a vegetarian after a shocking visit to a slaughterhouse. It was an early display of her lifelong compassion for those without a voice.

Shelley studied education at Antioch College in Ohio, where their work study program led her to teach everywhere from a private school in Mill Valley, California to an inner-city school in Atlanta.

Shelley taught elementary school in Miami-Dade County for several years, some of them at her mother's school. Still, Shelley felt a yearning to do more. Her father encouraged her to become a lawyer, telling her she "could do so much good." Shelley earned a degree in International Law from the University of Miami in 1982, remarking that she "wanted to help poor people here and abroad."

Shelley worked at her father's law firm for ten years, eventually becoming his partner at Kravitz & Kravitz. But as rewarding as her work was, she still had a desire to do even more. Shelley was encouraged, again by her father, to become a judge. Harold was impressed at how often she was able to change his mind on issues (which, for those who knew Harold, was quite an accomplishment). He felt her skills as a negotiator would suit her well as a judge.

Shelley decided to run for County Court judge. There were very few female judges in Florida at the time but Shelley beat the odds and won, ultimately serving from 1993 until her death. Early on, Shelley found that the job was not designed for a petite woman -- her robe didn't fit and her chair was so low she could barely see over the bench. As she later remarked, "My first words that I uttered to the bailiff were 'Please get me a booster seat so I can see.'" But just like on that hospital elevator, Shelley wasn't about to let anything get in her way. She went on to have an accomplished 25 years on the bench, serving in the Domestic Violence, Criminal, and Civil Divisions. Shelley also served as President and Legislative Chair of the statewide Conference of County Court Judges, positions rarely held by either a woman or a Miami-Dade County judge.

Shelley worked tirelessly for the Conference, making constant trips to Tallahassee to meet with legislators, often at her own expense. Shelley ultimately received the Conference's highest honor, the Harvey Ford Award. Shelley additionally was the longtime chair of the Miami-Dade canvassing board, responsible for overseeing elections including the infamous Bush-Gore recount in 2000. S

he was also a past president of the Miami-Dade Chapter of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers. In her (limited) spare time, Shelley enjoyed vintage shopping and Art Basel, was a crossword addict, and officiated at friends' weddings. She could often be seen in Miami Beach with her beloved dog Lenny Kravitz, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel she treated like the son she never had.

Shelley is survived by her brother Richard, her nephew Josh, and many cherished cousins. Sadly, Shelley's father Harold died just two days after her, on January 4, 2018. A memorial for Shelley and Harold was on Saturday January 13 at Lakeside Memorial Park and Funeral Home, 10301 NW 25th St, Miami, FL 33172. The family requests donations in Shelley's name to the National Parkinson Foundation.