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Deceased Name: Joe Walters , HHH attorney, dies at age 85

Joe Walters of Minneapolis, once known as the toughest litigator between Chicago and California, died May 11. He was 85.


Walters, an early partner in the O'Connor and Hannon firm, was the attorney for the Hubert Humphrey family. He had suffered several strokes in the past seven or eight years, and was recovering from a heart attack when he died, said his daughter Susan Holmes of Minnetonka.


Walters was born in Youngstown, Ohio, and raised in Wisconsin. He married his wife, Lois, shortly before he left for service in World War II, said his son, Bill, of Minneapolis. She died in 1999.


Walters was an Army sergeant on the front lines in the Pacific, including in New Guinea and the island of Luzon in the Philippines, his son said.


After the war he earned a bachelor's degree in 1946 and his law degree in 1947, both at the University of Minnesota.


He practiced alone for several years, took a partner, and then in the late 1950s was recruited by Pat O'Connor, said Tom Keller, who joined the firm a few years later and now practices with Moss & Barnett. O'Connor died May 8.


"Pat and Joe became regarded as the architects of what the firm became," Keller said. While O'Connor specialized in bringing in clients, Walters, as managing partner for many years, oversaw the firm's mergers and the opening of offices in Denver and Washington, D.C.


A lot of clients hired the firm to represent them in federal court cases, said Bill Walters. "My dad took only the most difficult cases ... and some of his clients went to the federal pen."


O'Connor, who was active in DFL politics, introduced his close friend Humphrey to Walters, who became the family attorney.


He lent $30,000 to Humphrey's presidential campaign in 1972, and represented Humphrey backer Dwayne Andreas, head of the agribusiness firm of Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. (ADM), who was found not guilty of charges that he contributed money illegally to Humphrey's 1968 presidential campaign. In 1978, after the senator's death, Walters, as a family trustee, led the Humphrey family denials when news reports claimed that the family had secretly been given more than $1 million in ADM stock by the Andreas family.


In 1986, Walters was involved in the ownership squabbles of the Vikings, representing the founding families, which wanted to retain control of the team. And Walters stood firm with a client of the Washington branch, the government of El Salvador in the late 1980s.


At the time, a coalition of groups opposed the aid for which the firm lobbied Congress, saying the Salvadoran government had repressed and murdered its citizens in an attempt to defeat leftist rebels. The coalition was pushing another client, the city of Minneapolis, to cut off its business with O'Connor and Hannon if the lobbying work continued with El Salvador.


The firm stuck with El Salvador and lost Minneapolis.


"Once you have decided to represent a client, just to terminate your representation because of pressure by others is unprofessional," Walters told the Star Tribune in 1989. "I think lawyers make a mistake if they let dollars cloud their professionalism."


In the mid-1990s the firm's focus shifted to its Washington work, and Walters became the only full-time attorney in the Minneapolis office.


"He was the most gifted lawyer I ever met," Keller said. "Very, very tough."


In addition to his son, Bill, and daughter Susan Holmes, he is survived by another daughter, Ann Walters of St. Paul; five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.


At Walters' request, no services are planned.


Trudi Hahn is at


Star Tribune: Newspaper of the Twin Cities (Minneapolis, MN)

Date: May 20, 2005







Deceased Name: Walters Joe Walters

Walters Joe Walters, age 85, of Minneapolis, passed away peacefully on 5/11/2005. Preceded in death by lifetime wife, Lois. Survived by children, Susan (John) Holmes, William Aldrich Walters and Ann Walters (life partner Elizabeth Langer); grandchildren, Laura (Kevin) King, Joshua Klinefelter, Joseph (Lourdes) Holmes, Kathleen Holmes and Elizabeth Holmes; longtime personal friend, Linda Gavel and 2 great-grandchildren. Prominent corporate litigation attorney and former managing partner of O'Connor & Hannan's Minneapolis office. The firm is headquartered in Washington D.C., where he remained a partner. Born of an immigrant family in Youngstown, Ohio, 1920. Education: University of Minnesota (B.S.L., 1946; LL.B., 1947). Admitted Minnesota 1947, District of Columbia 1964; U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals. Member, Hennepin County, Minnesota and American Bar Associations, Minnesota Civil Trial Specialist. Veteran of WWII. Personal lawyer to Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, U.S. Senator Eugene McCarthy and Sid Hartman, sports columnist, Mpls Star Tribune. Here's what others have said about him: "The working partner who tends to the store - with warm regards" - Hubert H. Humphrey "To my special friend Joe Walters with appreciation and admiration" - Dwayne Andreas ADM founder "To a good friend who has helped the Humphrey family through muddy waters" - Muriel Humphrey "A great, great attorney and one of my best, close personal friends" - Sid Hartman "Our wonderful father was the most loving, caring, generous, compassionate and wise man who reached out and touched many people - especially his beloved wife, children and grandchildren." - William A. Walters "OK FINE....." Per Joe's request, no service planned. Memorials preferred to Walters' Family Scholarship Fund, University of Minnesota Law School. Cremation Society of MN 612-825-2435




Star Tribune: Newspaper of the Twin Cities (Minneapolis, MN)

Date: May 15, 2005





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