Services held for Archie Gingold, last surviving alumnus of St. Thomas

Services held for Archie Gingold, last surviving alumnus of St. Thomas’ original School of Law

Funeral services were held Sunday for Archie Gingold, a retired Ramsey County judge and the last surviving alumnus of the original St. Thomas School of Law.

Gingold, 97, died Thursday after a brief illness. Services were held at Mount Zion Temple in St. Paul.

Born in 1908 in St. Paul to Lithuanian immigrants, Gingold attended Macalester College and transferred to St. Thomas, where he starred on the debate team and received a law degree in 1932. The 10-year-old law school closed the following year because of the Great Depression.

Gingold worked as an attorney until 1954, when he was appointed a St. Paul municipal judge. He became a Ramsey County district judge in 1960 and spent most of the next 18 years, until retirement, as a juvenile court judge.

As a judge, Gingold introduced several innovations in how the courts should deal with issues such as alcoholism, juvenile delinquency and child abuse.

He founded the St. Paul Alcohol Information and Referral Center and an organization known as Helpers of the Court. It was composed of alcoholics who had been in court, maintained their sobriety and in turn helped other alcoholics.

Gingold established a team of legal, medical and social work professionals who worked together to help battered children. He crusaded for community-based group homes for delinquent children, started safe driver clinics for juvenile traffic offenders and created a program called Parents Calendar to help agencies dealing with uncooperative parents.

"If our children commit crime," Gingold once said, "society must look at itself. The court, in essence, becomes society's conscience."

The St. Thomas Alumni Association conferred its Humanitarian Award on Gingold in 1975, and he served on an advisory committee that unanimously recommended in 1999 that the university reopen its law school. He also was a member of the St. Thomas President's Council in recognition of his generosity in funding scholarships.

Two years ago, when the first class of students graduated from the new St. Thomas School of Law, Gingold received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. The citation that accompanied the degree praised his lifelong work "as a lawyer, jurist, civic leader and community activist" and said he was guided "by an unswerving belief in the law balanced by compassionate efforts to create programs that would improve the lives of the thousands of people who appeared in your courts."

Survivors include three sisters, Sandra Iverson of St. Paul, Carla Feldhamer of Carbondale, Ill., and Mimi Gingold of Cincinnati; his brother, Bernard of Edina; eight grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter.