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Deceased Name: Twin Cities attorney William Rosen dies
Armed with a sharp intellect and a persuasive way with words, attorney William Rosen dominated Twin Cities courtrooms as he fought to earn his clients just compensation for land the government wanted.
In 1981, a newspaper headline dubbed him "top gun in [the] duel of eminent domain" as he sought top dollar for people who owned land where Minneapolis' City Center eventually was built.
Rosen, 69, of Edina died Wednesday at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis from complications of a heart transplant he had almost nine years ago.
"He was passionate, he was intense and he did nothing halfway," said his son, Daniel Rosen of Edina, who joined his father in the law firm of Rosen & Rosen. "If he was your lawyer, he gave all of himself. I think that was his secret to being good."
William Rosen grew up in St. Paul, graduated from Central High School and received bachelor's and law degrees from the University of Minnesota. He would often mention his father, a tailor, in court, telling judges, "But you don't need Max Rosen's son to tell you that."
In the late 1950s, Rosen's civil practice began to focus on eminent domain issues. In cases where cities or other government groups used their right to take private land for public use, he fought to get land owners the best possible price.
Besides the City Center case, he participated in cases involving the Federal Building in St. Paul, Hennepin-Lake redevelopment in Minneapolis, the old Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington and Interstate Hwy. 394. News stories reported that he sometimes won settlements for his clients that were three times the assessed value of the land. Rosen also represented members of the state Senate and Minneapolis businessman Robert Short in a case challenging construction of the Metrodome.
David Meyer, now an attorney with Fredrickson & Byron in Minneapolis, was a partner of Rosen from 1987 to 1995.
"His real skill was as a preeminent advocate or trial lawyer," Meyer said. "He could try cases of any type. He had a great presence, great instincts, unimpeachable integrity, and he was intellectually brilliant. And he was incredibly energetic, just a very hard worker."
Rosen's charm endeared him to many clients, who became friends, Meyer said. "He was a very warm and compassionate man. . . the kind of guy if you met, you never would forget."
Between 1970 and 1990, Rosen had at least one severe heart attack and a sextuple bypass, Meyer said. He bounced back from each, but in the late 1980s a series of heart attacks damaged his heart so much that he needed a transplant. Within weeks of that operation, Rosen was consulting with other attorneys. It was the same when he had chemotherapy later for lymphoma.
Daniel Rosen said his father's passions were his family, the Jewish community and the law. William Rosen was a past president of Talmud Torah school in St. Paul, and most recently active in the Kenesseth Israel Congregation in St. Louis Park.
Services were held Friday. Besides his son, survivors include his wife, Esther (better known as Timmie); daughters Jody Bar-On of Haifa, Israel; Nancy Rosen of Minnetonka, and Amy Stern of Golden Valley, and sisters Evelyn Rosen-Budd of Santa Rosa, Calif., and Janet Vigderson of San Diego. Another sister, Sylvia Schachtman of St. Paul, died the day after Rosen.
Memorials are suggested to Kenesseth Israel Congregation or the Minneapolis Jewish Day School.
Star Tribune: Newspaper of the Twin Cities (Minneapolis, MN)
Date: November 27, 1999