A.M. "Sandy" Keith, aged 91, died peacefully at his home on October 3, 2020. He was born on November 22, 1928 in Rochester, Minnesota to Dr. Norman Keith and Edna Alexander Keith. He graduated from Amherst College and Yale Law School and then enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Korean war. After boot camp at Quantico, Virginia he served for a year in Korea as a First Lieutenant. He married Marion Sanford on April 29, 1955 in Washington, D.C. and they moved to Rochester where Sandy worked in the legal department of the Mayo Clinic. In 1959 he was elected to the Minnesota State Senate representing Olmsted County. He was Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota from 1963 to 1967. After losing an election for governor in 1966, he returned to Rochester to practice family law at the firm Dunlap and Seeger that earlier he had helped found. He was appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1989 as an Associate Justice and from 1990 to 1998 served as the Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. In 2005 he helped form and lead the Rochester Downtown Alliance for five years as its first executive director. In his life he served his hometown, state and country.
Sandy was a public man - the only person in Minnesota's history to have served in all three branches of state government. He loved politics. He loved working with people from all walks of life. And he loved wrestling with tough issues - at the state capitol, at city hall or in the courtroom. He brought a tireless energy, buoyant spirit and fearless determination to improve the lives of his clients, his constituents and the people of Rochester and the state of Minnesota. He had a unique ability to make things happen, to bring the right people together in the right way to address important issues. Whether it was helping parents resolve custody and parenting issues through mediation, breaking down barriers for women to serve as judges, unifying the state court system or revitalizing downtown Rochester, Sandy found ways to work with others to get things done. He was the first president of the local group that eventually succeeded in bringing a branch of University of Minnesota to Rochester.
Sandy loved his home in the country and every spring for many years attempted the impossible of country living: digging every dandelion in sight by hand. He loved his daily walks with his beloved dogs. He loved skiing in Colorado and, to the embarrassment of his sons, singing "Born Free" at the top his lungs while carving turns down the slopes. He loved fishing in Canada with his sons, grandchildren and friends. He particularly enjoyed "counseling" young people about their lives and throughout his life was a prolific letter writer. Perhaps more than anything, he loved his work!
He is survived by his wife, Marion Sanford Keith, sons Ian Alexander Keith (Gail) and Dr. Douglas Scott Keith (Mei) and grandchildren Sean Keith, Ingrid Hagen-Keith, Ingemar Hagen-Keith and Andreas Hagen-Keith. He was pre-deceased by infant son Peter Sanford Keith, his parents and sisters Helen Keith Kling and Janet Keith Shands.
The family thanks all of the people who walked with him along his path of life.
The memorial service will be announced at a future date. Condolence messages may be sent to Marion at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are no events scheduled.
I ran Cross Country with Doug and Ian at Mayo High School and met Sandy through and many of the Cross Country meets. He was alway cheering all of us, not just his sons. I think it was my senior year civics class we took a field trip to the County Courthouse, we got a tour of the place and some time just to look around. I was looking in the different courtrooms when I saw Sandy in one, sitting in the spectator section not at one of the tables where the lawyers sat, I went in and sat next to him and asked what he was doing there. He pointed out the guy who was defending himself to the Judge and told me he had fired Sandy as his lawyer. The man had an addiction problem: Sandy told him he needed help with it and that is when he lost his client. Sandy still cared for his client and wanted to see what was going to happen to him. As the court proceedings were progressing Sandy filled me in on what was happening, who the judge was and what he thought was going to happen. Talk about getting a civics lesson and I was the only one in there with him. I think I was there for only about ten minutes but I will never forget it. He took the time to talk to a High School student, treated me like a friend and passed some knowledge and wisdom on to me. He will be missed.