Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Sandra Gardebring Ogren, former state Supreme Court Justice, dies in California

The Star Tribune is reporting this morning that Sandra Gardebring Ogren, a former Minnesota state Supreme Court Justice and very visible player in state government, has died in California at age 63.

She had recently retired there, after serving as vice president for advancement at California Polytechnic State University since 2004.

Few details of her death were available.

Gov. Rudy Perpich appointed her to the state Supreme Court in 1991; at the time, it made Minnesota the first state to have a female-majority Supreme Court, the paper said. She resigned from the court in 1998.

Her career in the state also included stints as head of the state Department of Human Services, the Metropolitan Council and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and three years as a state appeals court judge.

After leaving the Supreme Court, she worked at the University of Minnesota, managing legislative lobbying, fundraising and communications.

She moved to California in 2004, after getting a job offer at Cal Poly, in San Luis Obispo, where she and husband, former state Rep. Paul Ogren, owned a home and planned to retire.

Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Paul Landskroener on 07/21/2010 - 03:03 pm.

    This is sad news. I worked with Judge Gardebring at the supreme court and she was a brilliant, curious, funny, and compassionate person. She was an exemplary pubic servant.

  2. Submitted by Rod Loper on 07/22/2010 - 08:14 am.

    I think it was just a month ago she was on MPR for a call in show. It was wonderful to hear the warmth and genuine respect from every caller.
    Thank you, Sandi.

  3. Submitted by Paul Gustafson on 07/22/2010 - 11:47 am.

    I can’t think of any public servant in recent Minnesota history who has a resume of crucial positions as impressive as Sandra Gardebring Ogren.

    Gov. Rudy Perpich put her in key positions of authority when things got interesting and politically hot. She was like Cool Hand Luke.

    I had an experience with her in the late 1980s when I was a Star Tribune reporter.

    I was doing stories about absymal conditions at the Minnesota Veterans Home in Minneapolis. After a second round of scandal about terrible health conditions, Perpich took away control of the home from the state Department of Veterans Affairs and gave control to Gardebring as Commissioner of Human Services.

    The veterans groups howled. How dare Perpich put “The Welfare Ladies” – Gardebring and the Human Services Dept. – in charge of veterans health care!

    Within a day or so of that announcement, Gardebring went to the Mpls. Vets Home to meet with administrators. Some reporters were there waiting to ask questions after the meeting. And she took them.

    Then she did an extraordinary thing. She told the reporters, including me, that she was taking a tour of the home and invited us along. The Dept. of Veteran Affairs and Vet’s Home officials had stricken looks on their faces.

    What a smart and transparent thing to do. Few people I’ve known in public life would have had the intelligence, openness and political saavy to do that.

    You don’t get public servants any better than Sandra Gardebring Ogren.

Leave a Reply