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Yetka, Lawrence Robert

House 1951-60 (District 54)

Party when first elected:  Nonpartisan Election-Liberal Caucus

Counties Served:  Carlton

BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION

Date of Birth: 10/1/1924
Birth Place: Cloquet, Minnesota
Birth County: Carlton
Birth Country: United States
Date of Death: 11/12/2017
Gender: Male
Religion:
Reported Minority: None Reported
Other Names:
City of Residence (when first elected): Cloquet
Occupation (when first elected): Attorney, Cloquet

EDUCATION

Cloquet High School; Secondary; Graduate, Salutatorian, 1942
University of Minnesota; College Graduate;
University of Minnesota, Law School; Law Degree; 1948

OTHER GOVERNMENT SERVICE

U.S. Executive Branch: United States Commission on Civil Rights; 196? to 19??
Judge: Cloquet, Minnesota (Special Municipal Judge); 1961 to 1964
Municipal Attorney: Cloquet, Minnesota (City Attorney); 1964 to 1973
State Board/Commission/Council: Minnesota State Judicial Council; 1965 to 1969
State Board/Commission/Council: Minnesota State Judicial Council; 1971 to 1973
Judge: Minnesota Supreme Court (Associate Justice, Appointed by Governor Wendell Anderson); 06/02/1973 to 1993 [Appointed]
Judge: Carlton County, Minnesota Conciliation Court (Retired Judge, assisting sitting Judges Dale Wolf and Robert Macaulay, Jr.); 199? to 12/30/2010

FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS

Spouse: Ellen
Children: Three children: Frank, Larry, and Christopher (sons)
Family Members Who Have Served in the Minnesota Legislature:

GENERAL NOTES

He was a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.

"As a law student at the University of Minnesota in the 1940s, the younger Yetka began a lifelong friendship and political alliance with Hubert H. Humphrey when he started Students for Humphrey for Mayor. That Minneapolis campaign was the first of many on which they would collaborate, all the way through Humphrey's 1968 presidential race." (Star Tribune obituary, November 29, 2017)

"He was appointed to the state Supreme Court in 1973 by Gov. Wendell Anderson. Yetka almost turned down the position, but ended up loving it. Over the next two decades, he wrote some 500 opinions, including major cases on the environment and civil rights. When a case pitted an individual against the power of the state, he almost always sided with the individual, colleagues said." (Star Tribune obituary, November 29, 2017)

He played a role in establishing the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District, the Community Memorial Hospital, the Cloquet Waterline project, building the Minnesota Judicial Law Center on the St. Paul Capitol campus and he helped to establish the state Court of Appeals in 1983. (Duluth News Tribune Obituary, November 14, 2017)

His funeral was held on November 25, 2017 at Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Cloquet, Minnesota. He was buried at Maple Grove Cemetery in Cloquet.

Total Days Served: 3654

SESSIONS SERVED

61st Legislative Session (1959-1960)

  Session Details
Body: House
District: 54
Elected: 11/4/1958
Residence: Cloquet
Term of Office: 1/6/1959 to 1/2/1961
Counties Represented: Carlton
Occupation: Attorney
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Liberal Caucus
Committees:
  • Forestry
  • Judiciary (Chair)
  • Motor Vehicles
  • Rules
  • Taxes
Leadership Position: Assistant Majority Leader

60th Legislative Session (1957-1958)

  Session Details
Body: House
District: 54
Elected: 11/6/1956
Residence: Cloquet
Term of Office: 1/8/1957 to 1/5/1959
Counties Represented: Carlton
Occupation: Attorney
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Liberal Caucus
Committees:
  • Appropriations
  • Civil Administration
  • Elections
  • Judiciary (Chair)
  • Rules

59th Legislative Session (1955-1956)

  Session Details
Body: House
District: 54
Elected: 11/2/1954
Residence: Cloquet
Term of Office: 1/4/1955 to 1/7/1957
Counties Represented: Carlton
Occupation: Attorney
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Liberal Caucus
Committees:
  • Civil Administration
  • Insurance
  • Judiciary (Chair)
  • Public Domain
  • Rules
  • Towns and Counties
  • University

58th Legislative Session (1953-1954)

  Session Details
Body: House
District: 54
Elected: 11/5/1952
Residence: Cloquet
Term of Office: 1/6/1953 to 1/3/1955
Counties Represented: Carlton
Occupation: Attorney
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Liberal Caucus
Committees:
  • Cooperatives
  • Elections
  • Judiciary
  • Public Domain
  • University

57th Legislative Session (1951-1952)

  Session Details
Body: House
District: 54
Elected: 11/7/1950
Residence: Cloquet
Term of Office: 1/2/1951 to 1/5/1953
Counties Represented: Carlton
Occupation: Attorney, Cloquet
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Liberal Caucus
Committees:
  • Cooperatives
  • Drainage and Soil Conservation
  • Judiciary
  • Motor Vehicles
  • Public Domain
Articles & Books About
Lerner, Maura. "Lawrence Yetka: Supreme Court Justice, DFL Politician: Longtime Judge, DFLer Never Lost His Fascination for Politics." Star Tribune, November 29, 2017.

"Yetka, Lawrence Robert." Star Tribune, November 19, 2017, p. B15.

"Lawrence Yetka." Pine Journal, November 15, 2017.

Olsen, Tom. "Cloquet native Yetka, force in Minnesota law and politics, dies at 93." Duluth News Tribune, November 14, 2017.

"Lawrence R. Yetka." Biographies of Minnesota Supreme Court Justices. St. Paul, Minn.: State Law Library.

"The Political, Professional, and Judicial Career of Lawrence R. Yetka." St. Paul, MN: Minnesota State Law Library, 1996.

Minnesota Supreme Court. "Lawrence R. Yetka." Biographical Sketches of Justices of the Minnesota Supreme Court and Judges of the Minnesota Court of Appeals from Territorial Days to 1990, St. Paul, Minnesota: West Publishing Company, 1990, p. 31.


Archive Collections
Lawrence Yetka Papers; 1921-1999 - Available in the Minnesota Historical Society's Collections