Warren A. Saetre, retired Ninth Judicial District Trial Judge died Tuesday, September 26, in Marshall, MN. Still active at 94 years of age, Saetre died as a result of injuries suffered as a passenger in a traffic accident in Marshall. His wife, Marjorie Sorenson, also died as a result of the accident and her funeral service was held Tuesday, September 26.
Judge Saetre was born August 22, 1923 in Henning, MN, the son of Alfred and Ida (Thoreson) Saetre, the fifth in a family of five boys and two girls. Two of his brothers, Gaylord and Homer were also District judges in Minnesota. As a boy, Saetre learned the value of hard work from his Thoreson uncles who farmed the Henning area. He nurtured a life-long love of the outdoors, fishing and hunting the prairie lakes of his home, and he developed the virtues of integrity and faith from his Norwegian Lutheran family. He became acquainted with grief as a boy when his father died in the midst of the Depression, and he learned from his mother’s grit as she raised her family through those hard times.
Saetre enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corp in 1942, receiving his officer’s commission and silver wings as a fighter pilot. He flew P-38s and P-47s during WWII, and P-51s as a Minnesota Air National Guard officer following the war. He never forgot the honor of serving his country as a pilot and the thrill of flight that marked those years. Following the war, he met and married Margaret Strunk, the love of his life, in 1950 and graduated from William Mitchell Law School in 1951. In 1952 he opened a solo law practice in Margaret’s home town of Warren, MN. In addition to private practice, Saetre served as Marshall County Attorney from 1953 to 1968. His firm grew with the addition of partners Harold Myhre and Chuck Huddleston, now the firm of Rokke and Aandal. Saetre was appointed to the 9th Judicial Bench by Gov. Harold Levander in 1968 where he served until his retirement in 1989. He won praise from other judges and members of the Bar, who said of him at his retirement, that “He was an uncommonly good judge…a role model for many years for younger judges and lawyers around the state.” He was honored by the Minnesota State Bar Association for his years of service. Saetre was an author of the Minnesota Criminal Jury Instructions Guide and served as Chief Judge of the 9th District. He was a Fellow in the International Academy of Trial Judges and studied at the National College of Trial Judges and also as a student of British Law at the University of Birmingham.
There was more to the man than a distinguished career. He had a twinkle in his blue eyes and loved to tease. His annual Christmas letters from “Uncle Edvin” are legendary. Warren was a proud father, husband and community leader in Warren and Thief River Falls. He continued his love of the outdoors as an avid walleye fisherman on Lake of the Woods, and an inveterate duck hunter of the big lake. After the death of Margaret, he surprised us with a reunion with high school classmate, Marjorie Sorenson, and subsequently married her in the fall of 2010. They were good companions for each other at their Marshall, MN home and enjoyed happy twilight years together. Saetre is survived by his two younger brothers, Homer (Esther) Saetre, and Roland (Janice) Saetre; his son David (Janet Bewley); his daughters, Anne (Steve) Josephson; Nancy (Knute) Thorsgard; Linda Saetre; and youngest sons William and Steven. He loved his nine grandchildren very much, and delighted in his eight great-grandchildren. He was loved by his step-grandchildren and their four great-grandchildren as well. He is also survived by Marjorie’s son Scott (Colleen) Sorenson. He was preceded in death by his wife, Margaret (Strunk); his parents, his brothers Gaylord and Sidney, his sisters Josephine and Clarice; and his second wife Marjorie Sorenson.
A memorial service for Marshall friends will be held on Monday, October 9 at the First Lutheran Church, 1:00 p.m., and a service at the Zion Lutheran Church, Thief River Falls, on Saturday, October 14, 1:00 p.m. His remains will be laid to rest beside Margaret in a family interment in Warren, MN.
In notes he prepared for his own obituary, Warren wrote, “Hello and Goodbye from the luckiest guy I know…Life has been a great experience, both rugged and kind, so don’t feel sorry for me. And now I have taken my final step and I look forward to whatever awaits me.”