Bernhard (Pete) LeVander, who once led Minnesota Republicans, directed his law practice toward nonprofit groups associated with the Lutheran Church.
LeVander, whose brother Harold served as governor of Minnesota, died in his home in Roseville Dec. 24 of complications from a stroke. He was 92.
He served as a research assistant for the late Gov. Harold Stassen's administration and later served as director of the old Department of Social Welfare in the early 1940s.
From 1946 to 1950, he was the chairman of the Minnesota GOP, and in 1954 he mounted an unsuccessful campaign to become attorney general, losing to Miles Lord.
LeVander grew up in Atwater and Watertown, the son of a Lutheran minister. He graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter in 1937 and from the University of Minnesota School of Law in 1939.
After briefly practicing law in Lindstrom, he went to work in Stassen's administration and became a confidant of Stassen's, said LeVander's family.
During World War II, he was a Navy officer on a ship that participated in 10 landings in the Pacific.
Back in the Twin Cities, he built a law practice that included clients such as the Lutheran Board of Pensions, Bethesda Hospital and the Minnesota State High School League.
State Supreme Court Justice G. Barry Anderson, a nephew, was a clerk in the law firm that still bears LeVander's name.
"He had an astonishing set of people skills," said Anderson. "When he was talking to you, you were the most important person in the world, focusing on what you were saying to the exclusion of everything else."
Anderson said LeVander was generous with his time and money.
"I saw a lawyer who set very high standards, who strived to meet those standards every day and expected those around him to do likewise," said Anderson.
LeVander's law partner, Jim VanderLinden of Golden Valley, a former clerk in the practice, said he was "as good a teacher as one would want" and he "practiced law with dignity and respect."
"He tried a lot of cases ... ," said VanderLinden. "He was a great debater and great speaker, who was well organized in court."
He once taught in the Speech Department of Macalester College in St. Paul.
LeVander played leadership roles in at least a dozen civic groups, such as the Minnesota Citizens Mental Health Association and the Minnesota United Nations Association. He was a leader in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and active in his own congregation, St. Michael's Lutheran Church in Roseville.
In 1975, he was made a knight of the Swedish Royal Order of Vasa for advancing Swedish culture in America. In 1979, he became president of the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis.
LeVander retired in the early 1990s and was active with the Golden Kiwanis Club of Roseville. He enjoyed outdoor activities and regular exercise, remaining a downhill skier into his 80s.
His wife, Dagne, died in 1993.
He is survived by his daughter, Kirsten Dawson of Arden Hills; son, Peter LeVander of Arden Hills, and three grandchildren.
Services have been held.