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A fond farewell to Spaeth

 We note with sadness the death of former North Dakota Attorney General Nicholas Spaeth. He was found dead in his Fargo apartment last Sunday. He was 64 years old.

Spaeth was a popular and successful two-term attorney general. An up-and-coming political star in the Democratic-NPL Party, he sought the party’s endorsement for governor in 1992 but was denied. He ran in the primary and bested the endorsed candidate, state Sen. Bill Heigaard of Langdon. The party rift caused by the primary never fully healed.

Moreover, Spaeth lost to Republican Ed Schafer in a race that marked a rightward shift in North Dakota’s tectonic political plates. Democrats have not held the governor’s office since. Long after the race, Spaeth conceded his campaign did not measure up, and that his well-financed opponent did everything right.

Spaeth was a lawyer and scholar — an engaging personality who enjoyed public service and loved the law. He went on to a long career in corporate law after he left politics. By virtue of his large family and his own deep interest, he stayed connected to developments in his home state.

A man of principle and passion, the former attorney general will be remembered fondly by colleagues, friends, admirers and the many who were privileged to know him.

We join with his family in celebrating his life, as they said farewell at his funeral service.