Dwight Opperman, former CEO of West Publishing Co., has died

Well-known Twin Cities businessman Dwight Opperman, the former CEO of West Publishing Co., has died.

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Dwight Opperman, former CEO and chairman of the board of West Publishing, has died. He was 89.

Well-known Twin Cities businessman Dwight Opperman, the former CEO of West Publishing Co., has died.

Opperman died peacefully at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif., after a short illness, colleagues confirmed Thursday. He was 89.

Opperman was most recently chairman of Key Investment Inc., a private investment company in Minneapolis involved in publishing and run by his son Vance Opperman.  Among its holdings are MSP Communications, publisher of Mpls. St.Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business.

Opperman was born in Perry, Iowa. He graduated from Drake University with a law degree in 1951 and moved to the Twin Cities to become an editor at West Publishing Co.  He rose to the top of West, which became one of the world’s largest legal publishers, and helped lead the company as it developed Westlaw, an online legal research service the company launched in the mid-1970s.

West, based in Eagan, was sold in 1996 to Toronto-based Thomson Corp. for $3.4 billion. Now Thomson Reuters, the company maintains a major operation in Eagan.

An active philanthropist, Opperman established numerous scholarships at Drake University and endowed the Dwight D. Opperman Constitutional Law Lecture at Drake, an annual lecture delivered by top scholars, often U.S. Supreme Court justices.

Opperman’s wife, Jeanice, died of lung cancer in 1993. In 2008, he married popular writer Julie Chrystyn. He maintained a home in Dellwood, Minn., but began living in Beverly Hills fulltime last year, colleagues said.

Opperman is survived by his sister Doris Morris of Whittier, Calif. and two sons: Vance and his wife Darin, and Fane and his wife Corie, of Palo Alto, Calif. He is also survived by nine grandchildren: Cassandra O’Hern (Tom), Nathanial Opperman (Beth), Chaney Opperman (Susie), Vanessa Morehouse (David), Hayley Opperman, Grant Opperman, Derrek Opperman, Shana Opperman, Alisa Opperman;  and 13 great grandchildren. 
Funeral arrangements are in progress.
 

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