On Christmas Day, a fourth-generation son of Stillwater died in the city he loved and surrounded by family.
Dave Magnuson, aged 78, was born and raised in Stillwater’s North Hill and spent the majority of his life devoted to the care of the city’s residents through his volunteer work on numerous boards and committees and - most notably - as the city attorney for the last 40 years. Magnuson retired from his job as Stillwater’s city attorney in August 2018, but continued his work as an attorney despite a battle with ALS. It is believed that he was the longest serving city attorney in the state’s history.
After graduating from Stillwater High School in 1959, Magnuson served in the U.S. Navy before returning to his hometown after attending the University of River Falls and William Mitchell law school.
When he was first hired by the city in 1978, Stillwater was a different place than it is today, Magnuson said in an interview in 2018.
“It was a sleepy, small little town of 7,500 people,” Magnuson said. “Now it is nearly 20,000 people. A lot of people have moved in and the city has grown - most of it for the good.”
That change and growth was watched over by Magnuson, who guided mayors and city council members through street and infrastructure improvements.
“In the beginning, there was fewer staff than there is today,” Magnuson said. “The city clerk and I would sit down and plan out the city council agendas.”
“I’m grateful to anyone who paid their city taxes in the last 40 years, because whatever small portion of that money went to providing for me and my family,” Magnuson said in 2018.
Magnuson had an encyclopedic knowledge of Stillwater history, both from his time as the city attorney and secondly from stories shared by family members. Magnuson came from a long line of Stillwater civil servants. His great-grandfather was hired by the city of Stillwater in 1912 to work on the city streets and an uncle worked as a fireman. He was a longtime member and former president of Stillwater Rotary. He was an active volunteer, serving on numerous commissions, boards, and committees throughout the years. He was also a youth hockey coach and volunteer.
In 2019, Magnuson received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Stillwater Area High School.
During law school, he met and married, Mary Lowey, from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, and they were married for 51 years. According to his obituary, particularly happy times were spent with his family at their rustic cabin on Lake Saganaga, in Ontario, and traveling to Europe, Ireland, England and Scotland with Mary.
Preceded in death by his parents, Claude and Esther, sister Jean (Michael), brother Daniel (Deb), and brother-in-law Jim Lowey. He is survived by Mary, his wife, children John (Heather), Frances (Matt), Jim (Jane) and grandchildren Jack, Meg, Emily, Dylan, Madeline and Nadine.