Legal 06

Richard Kyle Sr.

June 22, 2021


Richard H. “Sarge” Kyle, passed away peacefully on June 22, 2021 surrounded by loving family and having been visited in recent weeks by numerous good friends and former colleagues. He was 84.  


Sarge was born in St. Paul, MN, on April 30, 1937 to Richard Erwin Kyle and Geraldine House Kyle and was a lifelong resident of White Bear Lake, MN. After attending St. Paul Academy and Williams College, Sarge earned his B.A. with honors from the University of Minnesota and his L.L.B. from the University of Minnesota Law School where he served as President of the Minnesota Law Review and was a member of the Order of the Coif. 


After law school, Sarge served as law clerk to his mentor, the late Hon. Edward J. Devitt on the United States District Court. Sarge subsequently joined the St. Paul law firm of Briggs and Morgan where, except for a two-year stint as Minnesota Solicitor General, he practiced continuously until 1992, when he was nominated by President George H.W. Bush, and confirmed as Minnesota’s 27th United States District Judge. He assumed senior status in 2005 and continued to carry a full caseload until he retired from active service in 2017.  


Sarge was a master of judicial administration. His hearings started on time, his cases moved swiftly, and his orders were clear and to the point. He presided over many trials during his nearly 30 years on the bench. He mentored dozens of law clerks and enjoyed walking the halls of the federal courthouse and downtown skyway system greeting colleagues, lawyers, and friends when court was not in session. Off the bench, Sarge was a member of the Committee on Model Jury Instructions for the Eighth Circuit and a former member of the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Rules of Civil Procedure. He also oversaw the District’s remodeling of the Warren E. Burger Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in St. Paul.   


At home, Sarge presided over a large and boisterous family. By his children, he will be remembered for guarding the house while they attended church with Jane; for anxiously and sometimes impatiently pacing the sidelines during high school sporting events; for early morning breakfasts at his favorite cafes; and for drive-through-the-night family car trips to Colorado and Florida. By his grandchildren, he will be remembered for rides on his John Deere lawn mower; for crushing handshakes until they cried uncle; for whisker burns; and for early Saturday morning Kowalski donut deliveries.   


He is survived by his loving wife of 61 years, Jane Foley Kyle, and five children: the Hon. Richard H. (Elizabeth Wittenberg) Kyle, Jr., Michael F. (Sara) Kyle, D’Arcy Kyle, Patrick G. (Susannah) Kyle, and the Rev. Kathleen (Paul) Brusco. He was blessed with ten grandchildren and one great-grandson: Peter and Joseph Kyle; Laura (Ryan) Thilquist and Helen Kyle; Ruby and Bug Kyle; Kyle, Maureen, Allison, and Norah Brusco; and Gavin Michael Thilquist, as well as two sisters, Sheila Kyle Cunningham and Geraldine (Bob) Kyle Bullard, and one sister-in-law, Kay (Jonathan) Cook. 


Sarge’s family offers their heartfelt thanks to the staff of The Waters of White Bear Lake, MN, and The Pillars Hospice, Oakdale, MN, who compassionately cared for Sarge in his final months. 


Memorial service at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 1 at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, 519 Oak Grove Street, Minneapolis. In accordance with COVID protocols at St. Mark’s, face masks will be required at the church.



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A reception will follow at the Landmark Center, 75 West 5th Street, St. Paul.   


In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota-North Dakota Chapter, the University of Minnesota Law School, or the Minnesota State Bar Foundation in Sarge’s name.   





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