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Former Crookston judge and Minnesota chief justice Russell Anderson dies

The Bemidji native presided over the Ninth District Court bench before being appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court, and then as chief justice of the state's highest court

Times Report

Bemidji native, former Crookston-based Ninth District judge and Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court Russell A. Anderson died on Tuesday, Sept. 15 at age 78 at his home, surrounded by Kristin Anderson, his wife of 53 years.

The Andersons were fixtures in the Crookston community when Russell sat on the Crookston court bench and Kristin was a school principal.

Anderson was appointed by then-Gov. Arne Carlson to the state’s highest court in 1998. Gov. Tim Pawlenty elevated Anderson to chief justice in 2206.

The current chief justice, Lorie Gildea, succeeded Anderson as an associate justice. She released a statement on Thursday on Anderson’s passing:

“Russ led with integrity, intelligence, and thoughtfulness, and his judicial career was only paralleled by his many civic contributions,” Gildea said. “He was a humble leader, a close mentor to me, and an inspiration to many who now carry his lessons of respect and humanity forward in their careers.”

Anderson worked in private practice in Bemidji and as Beltrami County Attorney before joining the Ninth Judicial District Court bench, the Star-Tribune reported, where he also served as chief judge until his appointment to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

He earned his law degree from the University of Minnesota and a Master of Laws from George Washington University. He was a member of the Judge Advocate General Corps of the U.S. Navy in Washington D.C.

Anderson led efforts to combat domestic violence, promote problem-solving courts that focus on rehabilitation, and enhance public access to court information, Gildea said.

In addition to Kristin, he is survived by his children, Rebecca Schmitz, John Anderson, and Sarah Harriss; granddaughters, Eva and Vivian Harriss; step-grandsons, Michael and Thomas Schmitz.

Russell Anderson

A service will be lived streamed at 11 a.m. Sept. 24 from Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 4100 Lyndale Av. S., Minneapolis. Visitation is from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday at Gill Brothers Minneapolis Chapel, 5801 Lyndale Av. S.

The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be considered to the following: Bethlehem Lutheran Church, St. Olaf College, Domestic Violence Council or the University of Minnesota Law School.