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Rosalie Wahl Will Be Missed, But Paved the Way for Many Others

By Becky Roloff, President and Chief Executive Officer
July 24, 2013
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Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Rosalie Wahl passed away Monday at the age of 88. As a community, we will miss Rosalie Wahl terribly. Justice Wahl was appointed in 1977 as the first woman Minnesota Supreme Court justice. She stood up for the rights of women, people of color and the dispossessed, and worked tirelessly for justice. A great story about this hero of the Minnesota Women’s movement comes from Sally Kenney, professor of Political Science at Tulane (and formerly of the Humphrey Institute):

In 1996, Rosalie Wahl spoke at a breakfast series I organized entitled “Women Leading Change.” She teared up as she relayed how Koryne Horbal had grabbed her hand at the St. Paul reception just after Governor Perpich appointed her to the Minnesota Supreme Court and said “Thank you for being ready.”

Her story made me think of all the women in history who have prepared in anticipation of greater equality for women whose hopes and dreams were never realized — because they could not be admitted to law school or the practice of law, because they could earn a Ph.D., but never secure an academic appointment (Kerr Conway 1994), or because they would train as a professional athlete but never have a team to play on. Like so many before me, I immediately developed a deep affection and admiration for Justice Wahl.

Driving in from Lake Elmo, a distant suburb, to talk to public policy students at breakfast time, was just the sort of thing she did all the time — going the extra mile to mentor, encourage and support women.

Thank you, Rosalie, for being ready. We are all better for it.

Also, read Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea’s statement on the passing of Rosalie Wahl.