Roger Nierengarten was judge, attorney, member of Catholic board of directors, Visitor columnist

Categories: Around the Diocese

 Jan. 3, 2014, edition

Roger Nierengarten, 88, died Dec. 22 in hospice care at home in St. Cloud. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 2 p.m. Jan. 4 at St. John’s Abbey Church in Collegeville, with Father Al Stangl officiating. Visitation will be from 1-2 p.m. at the church; burial will be in St. John’s cemetery at a later date.

Nierengarten graduated from St. John’s University, Collegeville, in June 1948, and from Marquette University Law School, Milwaukee, Wis., in 1951.

nierengartenIn December 1954, he was appointed administrative assistant to St. Cloud Mayor George Byers. He opened his own law office in St. Cloud in 1956 and continued in private practice until 2010.

Within this time period, he was elected Stearns County Attorney, Special Assistant Attorney General for the State of Minnesota and legal counsel for St. Cloud State University. He was appointed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, and remained on the court until 1989.

Judge Nierengarten was recognized as one of Minnesota’s outstanding trial lawyers. He returned to private practice and remained active, serving as an arbitrator even during his days in hospice.

Among the boards he served on were St. Cloud Diocesan Board of Education and the Minnesota Catholic Conference Board of Education.

In 1992, Nierengarten received the St. John’s University Alumni Achievement Award.

Remembered for columns

From 1978 to 1981, Nierengarten was a regular contributor to the St. Cloud Visitor column, “From Four Corners,” which drew lively commentary from readers.

He wrote about a wide variety of topics: basic rights — the right to life and the right to a fair trial, St. John’s University football, federal and state aid to education, books he was reading (Edwin O’Connor’s “The Edge of Sadness,” for one) and random thoughts about theology and life.

His last column, “Peace and Security,” published Nov. 19, 1981, pointed out that instead of increasing military hardware and cutting the national budget to the bone, peace and security would be better achieved by furthering social welfare programs to eliminate poverty and providing justice for all.

Father Ralph Zimmerman, the pastor at parishes in Luxemburg, Rockville and Pearl Lake/Marty who became editor of the St. Cloud Visitor in 1979, recalled him well: “He was an incisive writer, an astute thinker. The column was one of our best editorial pieces, with voices of the laity spanning different ideological and theological backgrounds. It drew a lot of reader reactions.”