Otis H. Godfrey, Jr. (1924-2002)

Judge Otis H. Godfrey, Jr. served on the Ramsey County District Court from 1968-1991.
Judge Otis H. Godfrey, Jr. served on the Ramsey County District Court from 1968-1991.

Otis H. Godfrey Jr. was born in 1924 and was grew up in Saint Paul, Minnesota.  He attended Central High School, but later transferred and graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy.  During World War II he served in the Army Air Corps as a nose gunner on a B-24 crew in the South Pacific.  After the war, he married Jean Keys in 1946.

After graduating from Yale University he followed his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps into the legal profession.  He studied law at the University of Minnesota Law School, graduated in 1950, and started his legal career as a sole practitioner in St. Paul.

In 1961, Governor Elmer L. Anderson appointed Godfrey to the St. Paul Municipal Court.  Seven years later, he was elevated to the Ramsey County District Court by Governor Harold LeVander to fill the seat left vacant by Judge A.S. Pearson.  Judge Godfrey served on the Ramsey County bench until he retired in 1991.

During those years, Judge Godfrey was an active member of the Ramsey County Bar Association, the Minnesota State Bar Association, the Minnesota District Judges Association, and the International Academy of Trial Judges.  Judge Godfrey served on the Ramsey County Law Library Board of Trustees for 15 years, and he also oversaw the law library remodeling project.

Judge Godfrey was also a leader in his community, and was involved with several organizations.  He had leadership roles with The Loft/Summit University Teen Center, Hallie Q. Brown Center, Martin Luther King Center, Ramsey County Friends of the Park, and the YMCA.  He loved hockey, and he coached youth hockey for 35 years.  He was married to his wife Jean for 56 years, and together they raised seven children:  Otis III (“Tracy”), Carol, Louise, Barbara, David, Paul, and Timothy.  Three of their children, Carol, Paul, and Timothy, are fourth generation attorneys.

Judge Godfrey passed away on July 17, 2002, at his home in St. Paul.  Judge Godfrey’s portrait was donated to the law library by his wife, Jean Keyes Godfrey, and hangs in the law library’s north reading room.

Judge Otis Godfrey served on the Ramsey County District Court from 1968-1991,

Judge Godfrey solemnly surveys the north reading room.

The portrait was painted by Robert Charles Knutson, M.D. who was born in Iowa in 1922, but grew up in Blue Earth, Minnesota.  He graduated from the University of Minnesota Medical School in 1947 and specialized in anesthesiology.  He subsequently was a founding partner of Associated Anesthesiologists where he practiced at Miller, St. Luke’s, United, Children’s, St. Joseph’s, and Shriner’s Hospitals until he retired in 1987.  In addition to practicing medicine, Dr. Knutson studied classical realism for 20 years at Atelier Lack and created many beautiful landscapes, still lifes, and portraits of family and friends, of which, Judge Godfrey was one.  Dr. Knutson passed away in 2013.

Sources:

Godfrey, Otis H. (Obituary) St. Paul Pioneer Press, July 19, 2002

For the Record: 150 Years of Law & Lawyers in Minnesota, Minnesota State Bar Association, 1999.

Knutson, Robert Charles, M.D. (Obituary) St. Paul Pioneer Press, June 29,2013.

 

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