"Myron H. Bright, 97, died peacefully on December 12, 2016 at the Eventide Fargo Senior Living Facility surrounded by his children and grandchildren.
Myron was born March 5, 1919 to Morris and Lena Bright in Eveleth, MN. He and his four siblings grew up in the hearty Iron Range of northern Minnesota. The Bright family was a staple of the Jewish community in the Iron Range and Myron has maintained a deep connection and close ties to the area throughout his life.
Myron attended Eveleth High School and graduated from Eveleth Junior College before going on to the University of Minnesota for his undergraduate and law degrees. His college days were interrupted by World War II, during which he honorably served his country as a Captain in the Army Air Corps, stationed in India.
He met Frances (Fritzie) Reisler in 1945 and they were married December 1946. After Myron’s graduation from law school, the couple moved to Fargo, ND in 1947 where they would make their home for the next 71 years. They were “partners” in every sense of the word until Fritzie’s death in October 2000. Myron and Fritzie were active members of the Fargo community and were involved in Democratic politics locally and state wide.
Myron joined the law firm of Wattam, Vogel and Vogel which became Wattam, Vogel, Vogel, Bright and Peterson and is now known as Vogel Law Firm. He had a 21 year career as a successful trial attorney, representing a variety of clients throughout North Dakota and Minnesota.
In 1968 Myron was appointed as an Appellate Judge on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals for the United States by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Over the course of his judicial career, he presided over more than 7,000 cases and authored more than 3,000 opinions. He was famous for his ground-breaking rulings in the field of civil rights and employment discrimination. Judge Bright complemented his judicial career with a strong involvement in legal education. His awards and accolades are too numerous to mention here. At his death he was the longest serving jurist on the Eighth Circuit.
Myron and Fritzie purchased what has come to be known as the “Little Brown Cottage” on Lake Melissa in Detroit Lakes, MN in 1968. From that date to the present it has become the perennial summer home for the entire Bright clan. Myron’s summers at the Lake were not to be interfered with and all who visited were welcomed to enjoy the full Bright family hospitality. He enjoyed golfing at the Detroit Lakes CC, tennis and most especially, walleye fishing with family and friends. He was fond of bird watching at the Lake and quite serious about tending to his bird feeders. He and Fritzie were accomplished Bridge and Cribbage players, often hosting their friends for games of cards.
When he wasn’t working or at the Lake, you could find Myron behind the pages of any newspaper, the New Yorker or a good book. His mind never stopped. He had an incredible memory and the astonishing ability to recall the smallest details of events that took place years ago. He was a friend to all he met and a gift of wisdom and advice to all those who knew him.
Myron loved and cherished his family. He referred to them as “the family,” using a formal tone, as if it were an official title. “The family” included not only his immediate one, but also the more than 100 law clerks who served him during his 48 years on the bench. He looked forward with great anticipation to the law clerk reunions, which were held every 5 years during his time as a judge.
He was known by many titles; Judge, Myron, Mike, Dad, Pops and Poppop. One of his most prized titles was “author,” having written and published his autobiography, Goodbye Mike, Hello Judge: My Journey for Justice in 2014. He was an avid sports fan; following the NDSU Bison, UND, the Minnesota Vikings and the Minnesota Twins. He was a supporter of the arts; including the FM Symphony and FM Opera. He was the oldest member of Temple Beth El.
He is survived by his family who loved him dearly; daughter, Dinah (Christian) Golding of Fargo, ND; son, Joshua Bright of Excelsior, MN; grandchildren; Amy (Jim) Long of Fargo, ND, Sarianne (Brock) Dickson of Harwood, ND and Adam (Kimberly) Schultz of Shorewood, MN; great-grandchildren; William Bright, Connor James and Henry Elliot Long, Collins Frances and Maxum Brock Dickson; Mason Myron and Addison Marie Schultz; and many nieces, nephews and cousins.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Frances Bright; parents, Morris and Lena Bright; brothers, Leo Bright, Roy Bright and Joe Bright; and sister, Mabel Bright Manfield."
Judge Bright made numerous additions:
May 1984 (84-1298); November 1985 (85-1424); May 1986 (85-1445); February 1988 (88-1581); August 1989 (89-1678); May 1990 (90-1698); September 1990; April 1991 (91-1745); October 1991 (91-1791); November 1992 (92-1851); October 1993 (93-1918); April 1995 (95-2012); November 1997 (97-2154); June 1999 (99-2359); August 1999 (99-2371); March 2000 (2000-2426); October 2001 (2001-2531); October 2002 (2002-2579); February 2003 (2003-2609); June 2005 (2005-2756); September 2006 (2006-2865); January 2009 (2009-2960); August 2009 (2009-2969); January 2012 (2012-3148); July 2014 (2014-3256); May 2016 (2016-3309); March 2017 (2017-3335).
The collection was closed until the death of Judge Myron Bright on December 12, 2016.
The Myron H. Bright Papers consist of Bright's chambers papers, which include correspondence and memoranda between Judge Bright and other judges, memoranda from his law clerks, oral argument and conference notes, and draft and final versions of rulings. The legal citation is indicated for most cases.
Judge Bright’s notable rulings included:
-the Reserve Mining cases 514 F.2d 492 (8th Cir. 1975): These cases upheld the right of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate corporate pollution, a practice unheard of before the lawsuit. Materials from these cases are found in Series 7 (Boxes 7 and 8), as well as Series 9 (Box 20) and Series 10 (Box 23).
-Chapman v. Meier 372 F. Supp. 371 (D.N.D. 1974): This case regarded the legality of federal court ordered reapportionment of the North Dakota Legislature. Materials from the case are found in Series 8 (Box 14).
-Walker v. Lockhart 726 F.2d 1238 (8th Cir. 1984): This case freed a wrongly imprisoned, death row inmate after 23 years of confinement in Arkansas. Materials from the case are found in Series 15 (Box 51).
Series 1: Biographical Material
Series 2: 1968
Series 3: 1969
Series 4: 1970
Series 5: 1971
Series 6: 1972
Series 7: 1973
Series 8: 1974
Series 9: 1975
Series 10: 1976
Series 11: 1977
Series 12: 1978
Series 13: 1979
Series 14: 1980
Series 15: 1981
Series 16: 1982
Series 17: 1983
Series 18: 1984
Series 19: 1985
Series 20: 1986
Series 21: 1987
Series 22: 1988
Series 23: 1989