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Law School Bids Farewell to James Hetland (’50)

JUNE 13, 2012—James L. Hetland Jr. (’50), a former Law School professor, inaugural chair of the Metropolitan Council, and long-time bank executive, died May 23, 2012, in Minneapolis. He was 86.

Hetland enlisted in the U.S. Army immediately after high school and served during World War II. Upon his discharge, he enrolled at the Law School, where he worked on the Minnesota Law Review, clerked for Supreme Court Justice Tom Gallagher (1949-50), and graduated at the top of his class, Order of the Coif. He went into private practice after graduation but returned to the Law School in 1956, as a tenured professor. He also continued his affiliation with the Minnesota Supreme Court, chairing its Advisory Committee on Rules of Civil Procedure from 1959–79.

In 1967, the Minnesota legislature created the Metropolitan Council to coordinate development and services in the rapidly growing seven-county metropolitan area. Gov. Harold LeVander appointed the first members, including Hetland, who chaired the Council for its first four years. The Metropolitan Development Plan, a strategy for long-term economic growth, was formed under his leadership.

Hetland began his long career with First National Bank of Minneapolis (the predecessor of U.S. Bancorp) in 1971, as the vice president of urban development. He went on to serve as senior vice president of law and urban development (1975-82) and senior vice president and general counsel (1982-88). From 1988-90, he was counsel to the board of First Bank System.

His academic activities included membership in the Council on Crime and Justice and co-authorship of the Minnesota Practice series and the Minnesota Jury Instruction guides. He also taught at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and was an adjunct professor at William Mitchell School of Law.

Hetland held many leadership positions in the community, including the presidency of the Citizens League, the National Civic League, and the Citizens Forum on Self-Government. He was a member of the board for the Center for Ethical Corporate Behavior and a member of the Minneapolis Charter Commission, the National Municipal League, the Minneapolis Downtown Council, and the Civic Caucus.

He was preceded in death by his wife Barbara "Bobbie" Hetland and is survived by daughters Janice Hetland and Nancy Colbenson, sons Steven and James, and ten grandchildren.


James Hetland

James L. Hetland Jr. (’50)

Photo courtesy of the Hetland family