Wahl, Rosalie Erwin age 88, died peacefully surrounded by family on July 22, 2013. She was born Sara Rosalie Erwin on August 27, 1924 to Gertrude Patterson Erwin and Claude Erwin in Gordon, Kansas. After the death of her mother when Rosalie was 3, she and her younger brother Billy went to live with her grandparents in the small rural community of Birch Creek in Southeastern Kansas. They were raised there together through the years of the Depression until her grandfather and younger brother were killed by a train in 1932. Rosalie and her grandmother lived on alone in "the Old Stone House" until moving to Caney, Kansas for Rosalie to attend high school. She was heavily influenced by the two strong women in her life: her Grandma Effie and her Aunt Sara, a professor of nursing at the University of Kansas [KU]. She became engaged after high school, but her fiancé was killed in a training exercise in World War II. She went on to get her BA degree in journalism at KU in 1946. While at the university, Rosalie was editor of the school newspaper, and, as president of KU's YWCA branch, started the first interracial student housing on campus. She met and married Roswell Wahl after he returned from the European front in World War II, and moved to Minnesota where they raised four children. A life-long lover of poetry, books and reading, she was instrumental in the development of the county library system while raising her children. In 1962 she began law school at William Mitchell School of Law. Halfway through law school, she gave birth to her fifth child, and graduated in 1967. She then worked for the State Public Defender's Office arguing appeals before the Minnesota Supreme Court, and developed William Mitchell's criminal law clinic program, the first of its kind in the nation, before being appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court by Governor Rudy Perpich in 1977. She was instrumental in establishing the importance of, and standards for, clinical programs in law schools throughout the country through the American Bar Association. While on the Supreme Court, she led the Court's Commission on Mental Health, the Gender Bias Task Force, and the Racial Bias Task Force. She retired from the Supreme Court in 1994. Rosalie was highly respected within the legal community, and was a role model and inspiration in many ways for all women, particularly for those entering the legal profession. She encouraged women to spread their wings and pursue their dreams and fields of interest. She was passionate about providing access to, and equal justice for, all people. Despite the considerable adversity she experienced in her life, Rosalie was always positive, optimistic and hopeful of a better world, always with a song in her heart. She was a very loving person, non-judgmental and compassionate, giving much of herself. She was also very feisty, with a determined, steely resolve. Rosalie was a deeply spiritual person and was active in the Friends (Quaker) community throughout her adult life. She has left a piece of herself in the hearts of each of us. We will miss her dearly. She is survived by her children, Chris, Sara (Michael Davis), Tim (Carol), Mark, and Jenny Blaine (Patrick); grandchildren, Sean Wahl, Michael II and Alex Davis, Abigail, Turner and Henry Wahl; great-grandchildren, Alina and Rosalie Ramirez, Jevonne Woodson, Elizabeth and Isaac Wahl; by sister, Mary Drake of Grand Junction, Colorado; cousin Delores Fields of Bartlesville, Oklahoma; and by many cousins, nieces and nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews. A private memorial service has been scheduled. A public memorial service will be held on September 21, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. at Central Lutheran Church, 333 South 12th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55404 (downtown Minneapolis). Parking is available on the south side of the church. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Southern Law Poverty Center, the William Mitchell College of Law Rosalie Wahl Law Clinic Fund, or to a charity of your choice.

Published on July 28, 2013

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