Public Servant, Businessman, University Regent: Law School Mourns the Passing of John Yngve ’49

June 10, 2019

John Yngve ’49, a lawyer, entrepreneur, lifelong public servant, and former member of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents, passed away May 21 at the age of 94.

Yngve grew up in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park, tending chickens on his parents’ property while they ran the family law firm, Yngve & Yngve. In 1943 he enlisted in the Army Air Force, and when the war was over he entered the Law School. During his early years of legal practice, he also followed his entrepreneurial bent, opening a drive-in restaurant which he helped operate for six years.

His lifelong interest in public service and politics also took hold in the 1950s. Over the years, he served on the planning commission and city council of Plymouth, Minnesota; was elected to a seat in the Minnesota House, where he was part of a group of reform-minded Republicans known as the “Young Turks” (among the reforms Yngve championed: the founding of the Metropolitan Council and the decriminalization of mental illness); chaired the first Metropolitan Transit Commission; and served as a member of Gov. Arne Carlson’s cabinet.

Yngve’s notable achievements in business included serving as president of Nortronics in Golden Valley, a manufacturer of tape heads whose clients included NASA; as chair of Minnesota Technology Inc. and Bondhus Corp.; and as a board member of the American Electronics Association.

While a member of the University Board of Regents during the Vietnam War era, Yngve worked to limit Minneapolis police and National Guard involvement with student antiwar protests. He also served with the University of Minnesota Foundation and was a generous donor to the Law School.

Throughout his life and career, Yngve was known for being frank yet courteous, pragmatic yet optimistic. “He was always looking toward the future,” his son Rolf told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “He was a proponent of new ideas, invention, taking risks, and trying out new things to see if they could make the future better.”

John Yngve ’49
John Yngve ’49

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