Each year, the HCBA President is privileged to speak at the Bar Memorial, a special session of the Fourth Judicial District Court. This year's Bar Memorial was held on April 27, at 9:00 a.m. in the main auditorium in the Thrivent Building. Over 400 family members, friends, partners and colleagues attended this year, remembering and celebrating each of the 61 lawyers who were honored. Here are my remarks:
Remarks from HCBA President Paul M. Floyd
Delivered on Thursday April 27, 2017 Bar Memorial Session
May it please the Court,
Today we honor over 60 attorneys, judges and professors -- all with a Hennepin County connection -- through their law school, their legal practice or judicial service.
The term “to honor” may be defined as "to hold in high esteem" and that is what we as a Bar Association in conjunction with the Fourth Judicial District Judges have done annually for more than 110 years.
Years ago, each obituary was read aloud. But given the large number of tributes, I will summary one or two notable facts about each of the persons we are honoring today.
Quite a number served in the armed forces, here are just a few:
One lawyer after serving as Captain in the US Army Air Corps during WWII, had a successful litigation practice for 21 years in Fargo North Dakota. He was then appointed to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals where he served for more than 48 years. He mentored over 100 law clerks. He participated in his last panel on September 23, 2016, just three months before his death at the age of 97.
Another fought in WWII with the 14th Armored Division and 25th Tank Battalion; he was wounded in battle and was awarded the Purple Heart after having his leg amputated. He later attended the University of Minnesota and practiced law for 50 years at the law firm now known as Moss & Barnett.
One served during WWII in the US Navy in the European, African, Asia Pacific and American theaters, and he spent most of his career in the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office -- particularly, in the Welfare Fraud Division.
Another was an airborne artillery hang-glider for the British and fought in the forgotten war in “Burma and Southeast Asia” during WWII, he then became a British solicitor at a prestigious law firm in England-- before attending the University of Minnesota and becoming a career attorney at Cargill.
This attorney was a naval intelligence officer (as a “spy”) in Istanbul, Turkey. He began his law career as Assistant City Attorney for the City of Bloomington and had a solo practice in Bloomington for more than 50 years.
After an illustrious career in JAG Corps for the US Army, this attorney was admitted to practice before the US Court of Military Appeals in Washington DC. He worked in business and was treasurer on the Board of the American Swedish Institute. He was proud of the time he met the king and queen of Sweden.
This Vietnam veteran became a Hennepin County District Court judge after a 24-year insurance defense practice. He served on the Minnesota District Judges’ Board of Directors for 16 years.
Today, we also honor a past Governor and Senator of Minnesota:
He was also a Silver medalist on the 1956 US Hockey Olympic Team. He became our governor at the age of 37, and later was a US Senator and Regent of the University of Minnesota. He appeared on the cover of Time Magazine. He won all 87 counties in the State of Minnesota in a contested race for Governor – a feat not likely to repeat any time soon.
We honor a Dean from the University of Minnesota Law School, who was a Fulbright Scholar at the London School of Economics, He taught as a Law Professor and Dean for more than 70 years and lived to be 100.
We honor 10 judges today:
One judge was also a past Executive Secretary of the MN Board on Judicial Standards, and setting the "gold standard" for running the office.
Another judge was a well-respected jurist, first in Hennepin County District Court where he served as Judge -- then Chief Judge, and later on the Minnesota Court of Appeals. His son joked about his father’s judicial temperament: “It is hard to get away with a lie in the evening, when your father has had people lying to him all day.”
Two judges were also Golden Glove competitors, one became a well-respected state court judge and the other a well-respected federal court judge. The state court judge was known as the “Willmar kid” and the federal judge advanced to the state middleweight championship, losing in the final round but battled back after being knocked down at least 6 times. The “Willmar kid” was elected to the Hennepin County Municipal Bench where he became chief judge and was later appointed as judge to the Hennepin County District Court. The other golden glove competitor became an Assistant US Attorney, was elected Attorney General for Minnesota, then appointed US Attorney for Minnesota and later appointed United States District Court Judge for Minnesota.... where he served 20 years, gaining a national reputation for many of his decisions, including the Reserve Mining and Dalcon Shield rulings.
Another judge began his career working for Legal Aid and then became a Human Services judge with the Minnesota Department of Human Services.
One judge got his start as Justice of the Peace. He later became a Hennepin County Municipal Judge, a Hennepin County District Court Judge and was appointed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals in 1984, the year the court was created. He served as a judge for more than 39 years - both in Hennepin County and throughout the state.
Another judge was a Hennepin County Probate Mental Health Referee for 20 years, who truly loved his job. He started his career at Gray Plant and finished at Lindquist & Vennum.
The next district court judge was also the youngest State Senator ever elected in MN. He was reelected four times as senator, and later unanimously elected Chief Judge by the Hennepin County District Court judges. He also guided the National Arbitration Forum for nearly 20 years.
The next judge lived to be 101, and was noted for taking long walks during his lunch hour. Seems to have worked. First, he was a Municipal Judge for Golden Valley, then a Hennepin County District Court Judge. He worked many years as a senior judge and was well liked by his colleagues and the bar.
Two of the attorneys were TV and radio personalities:
One lawyer held court for 13 years with a weekly show and then podcast called 'Holding Court,' and helped launch a wide-ranging TV talk show called 'Enough Said.' He was known as a provocative voice on the air, a truly memorable character.
The other lawyer hosted the TV talk shows: "Capital Approach" and "Flak on Five" and was a regular guest on TPT's almanac. This attorney had the rare privilege of serving in all three branches of our government: a 6-term Representative in the MN house, an appointed Hennepin County Attorney and a Judicial Referee in specialty courts -- housing, juvenile and harassment. He was proud of his Norwegian Heritage.
Some attorneys had a solo general law practice or were in small firms:
One had his law practice for over 60 years at the corner of 50th and France in Edina.
Another had his law practice for 43 years on Park Avenue in Minneapolis.
One family law lawyer who practice nearly 50 years and was proud of a t-shirt from a client with the caption: "freedom fighter."
Others worked at Mid-Size to large firms:
On this attorney’s 25th anniversary at Dorsey, his friend, David Frishberg, the jazz song composer, wrote the quintessential song about lawyers "My Attorney Bernie" -- if you haven’t heard it, do yourself a favor and do, you’ll smile.
This attorney was one of the lead trial attorneys representing the plaintiffs in the GLACIER BAY and Exxon Valdez oil spills litigation, which resulted in the largest punitive damages award at the time of $5 Billion.
Another was a nationally recognized products liability attorney who tried over 100 high-stakes cases in over 37 different states. He was a founder of Bowman & Brooke.
One was a Dorsey and Whitney labor and employment attorney who worked for the firm 38 years and beloved by the firm and known for mentoring younger lawyers.
One was a highly-respected Intellectual Property attorney who worked for over 40 years at various firms and companies, including Procter & Gamble, Pillsbury Company, and was Chief Development Officer at Medtronic, before he joined Fredrikson & Byron.
This regulatory law attorney -- worked for many years at Medtronic, and ended his career working at Fredrickson and Byron. He was a teacher and mentor to many other attorneys and law students.
Another attorney in the health care, biosciences field was nationally recognized for his advice, education and trial work, proud to practice law in Minneapolis.
Another attorney worked his entire career at Best & Flanagan, from summer associate to associate to partner and was managing partner from 2011-2015. A beloved friend to his colleagues.
This attorney was a nationally recognized labor lawyer for almost 50 years at the firm now known as Felhaber Larson. Respected by both labor and management representatives – unusual at any time.
After 25 years in small firms, this attorney joined Larkin Hoffman and became a banking attorney. He supported the arts and was a loyal patron of the Minnesota Orchestra.
This Fredrikson & Byron attorney loved travel, photography and scuba diving -- her love for her cats and animals was evident in her photos and world travel destinations.
This attorney had the pleasure of being the lawyer to many of his childhood friends -- while being President of for many years at Lommen Abdo and its predecessor firms.
This attorney was described as a free spirit with a passion for social and racial justice that started early and continued throughout her life. After starting her legal career at Dorsey, she moved to Kaplan Strangest and Kaplan as an estate planner for the next 18 years. In retirement, she volunteered for many nonprofit organizations. She loved nature and storytelling.
We had a number of corporate attorneys:
One was senior counsel at General Mills and later Sr. Vice President and Corporate Counsel at Ralston Purina until his retirement in 2001. He mentored many young attorneys in the corporate legal departments where he worked. He is remembered as a wonderfully wise and funny man.
One attorney served as General Counsel for Sperry Univac for 13 years, and just as important, he devoted over 30 years to volunteering for Legal Aid.
Another was an attorney who spent his career in government relations and lobbying for numerous insurance companies including Lutheran Brotherhood and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.
One was counsel for the Ice Folleys and Holiday on Ice. He served on over 50 boards, including state and federal banks. He founded the Minneapolis office of the law firm that became known as Gislason & Hunter.
Another was in-house counsel for Muningswear, Land o’ Lakes and then general counsel for a bank with over 12 billion in assets. Her passions were travel and photography.
Some attorneys are known for their law related accomplishments:
One was a tax attorney and CPA, who, as a republican party chair and delegate, provided tax and legal advice on the national and state level for almost 50 years. He was inducted into the American College of Tax Counsel.
This attorney had a 40-year litigation, arbitration, mediation practice, but when he could -- he lived out his real passion “sailing” .... earning a Captain's license in the US Coast Guard.
Another attorney viewed the law as a “calling,” which impacted his view of legal and social justice. He also had an extensive record collection (vinyl) and could identify any operatic aria within a matter of seconds.
Another attorney spent over 25 years in real estate law, and was instrumental in rehabbing the former Sears Building on Lake Street into a global market. She was honored for her contributions to the arts -- with a memorial service on the Main Stage of the Guthrie.
Two were primarily municipal lawyers – one served as City Attorney for numerous municipalities over his 40-year career, including Brooklyn Center, New Brighton and Minnetonka and ended his career at Kennedy & Graven. The other was an Eagle Scout, who had a 44-year career in municipal law while at the Anoka law firm that still bears his name.
Some attorneys were known for their public service:
One attorney was a proud Alan Page scholar and mentored other Page scholars. She worked as a legal aid attorney, and had the honor of being Miss Black Minnesota.
Another was a career felony prosecutor with the Hennepin County Attorney’s office, known for her "killer sense of honor and loyalty." When gravely ill near the end of her life, her “Notre Dame Gang” flew in from around the country to sit with her in intensive care.
After starting in the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, this attorney had a long career in the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office -- mostly in felony prosecution work. In retirement, he represented guardians’ ad litem in the juvenile court and did other legal work for Hennepin County until 2 years before he died.
This attorney practiced at the firm now known as Lockridge Grindel Nauen and he helped launch the Minnesota Justice Foundation.
One was a former law clerk to Judge Ann Montgomery and Judge Gary Larson, who was in his element advocating for human rights and seeking redress for those injured and suffered wrong.
One was a women attorney who at age 50 went to law school and later ran for a seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives with the motto: "A woman's place is in the house.”
Some were athletes, sports fans and were known for their non-law related interests:
One was a competitive runner who helped found the Twin Cities Marathon. He ran nearly 90 marathons, which in and of itself is amazing, but add to it the fact that he started running at the age of 41 -- and died at age 80 after battling Parkinson's Disease for more than a decade.
After winning the Minnesota state high school championship as a sprinter in the one mile relay, this attorney was a member of Gopher’s 1968 Big Ten Championship Track Team. He worked in his families’ printing business and became a face for early-onset Alzheimer’s.
After an exceptional but abbreviated legal career at Mackall Crounse and Moore in litigation, this attorney left the firm in 1994 to pursue, among other things, competitive bicycle racing, and she raised money from numerous charity rides. She was a true renaissance person with a love of learning.
One was a Golden Gophers Basketball supporter with season tickets for 35 years, was an attorney at Mackall Crounse & Moore and Foley & Mansfield, and who also just happened to have an impressive collection of Zubaz pants.
One had an amateur tennis career. He enjoyed the sport so much he had an elaborate tournament level clay tennis court built next his lake home.... complete with a gas-powered riding steamroller to press down the clay.
One attorney loved nature and stories about the sea, he once said he would rather be in his “red canoe than at the Minnesota State Fair.”
Another attorney became an informal fishing guide on Seagull lake when he retired. He delighted in helping others catch their PBW -- personal best walleye.
Finally, one was a farm girl who attended the University of Minnesota law school where she made law review and graduated with honors. She then taught law related courses for more than 40 years at Winona State and had a private practice. She lived on a small farm near Houston until her death last year. Her obituary states what is true for so many of these individuals:
“She was a strong character, fiercely independent, known to not suffer fools and was an avid fighter for the underdog.”
Each of these remarkable lawyers made a lasting impact on their spouses and their families, colleagues, partners, clients, friends and their communities.