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Peter O. Sathre


Peter O. Sathre, known as P. O. to friends, was born on this date in 1876 in Adams, Minnesota. An attorney by trade, Sathre made a name for himself by serving in a variety of political offices in North Dakota until his retirement in 1962 at the age of eighty-six.

Although born in Minnesota, Sathre moved with his family to Steele County in Dakota Territory at the age of eight. As a child, he attended rural public schools in both Steele and Griggs counties, going on to pursue a law degree from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. Graduating in 1910, Sathre returned to Steele County and set up practice in Finley. He quickly joined the newly-organized Mayflower Lodge of the North Dakota Masons as a founding member, and was appointed to serve as Steele County State’s Attorney shortly thereafter, a position he would hold for thirteen years. He also served a single term as a member of the North Dakota State House of Representatives and three terms as a State Senator. In 1932, he accepted an appointment to become an Assistant U.S. Attorney, but only served a year, resigning in April of 1933 to accept an appointment as an assistant attorney general of North Dakota. When the seated attorney general, A. J. Gronna, retired in November of 1933, Sathre was appointed to fill the vacant seat until an election could be held. Sathre won the election the following year, and remained attorney general. Reelected in 1936, Sathre again had to cut short his tenure when the following year he accepted an appointment to the North Dakota Supreme Court. The appointment was made after the death of former North Dakota Governor, Justice John Burke. Burke’s death in May of 1937 left a vacancy that Governor William Langer filled by appointing Sathre. He served only one year, though, defeated in 1938’s public elections. However, in 1950, at the age of seventy-four, Sathre became one of only two North Dakota Supreme Court Justices to serve in two different intervals, when he was elected to the court once again.

In 1962, after twelve continuous years on the Bench, Sathre retired. He passed away on January 23, 1968, at the age of ninety-one.

Dakota Datebook written by Jayme L. Job