Judge Frank Magill

judge frank magill

Frank Magill died peacefully on June 2, 2013, at his home in Fargo, North Dakota. 

Frank Magill was born June 3, 1927, in Verona, North Dakota to Thomas and Viola Magill (Lemna).  He attended school in Verona and graduated from Verona High School in 1945.  He served in the United States Navy from 1945 to 1947.  He married Mary Timlin in Washington, D.C. on October 22, 1955. 

Frank graduated from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in 1951 and Georgetown Law School in 1955.  He also received a Master’s Degree in Economics from Columbia University in 1953.  From 1955 to 1986, he practiced law with what is now the Nilles, Plambeck, Selbo, & Harrie, law firm.  He was a well-respected litigator with a state wide reputation.  He also lobbied for the Burlington Northern Railroad during 13 legislative sessions.  He served one term as President of the Cass County Bar Association and was active in the American Bar Association as a member of the Public Utilities Section.

On January 21, 1986, on the recommendation of U.S. Senator Mark Andrews, Frank was nominated by President Ronald Reagan to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. The United States Senate confirmed his appointment on March 3, 1986, and Frank was sworn into the position on April 1, 1986.  He was only the third North Dakotan to serve on the Eighth Circuit.  The Eighth Circuit hears federal cases from North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Arkansas, and Missouri.  He served as an active judge on the court until April 1, 1997, at which time he assumed senior status.  Frank served as Chairman of the Financial Disclosure Committee of the federal judiciary. 

Frank was very active in the local Fargo community.  He served on numerous boards, including the Chamber of Commerce and the Farm Bureau, and was President of the Fargo Library Board.  He was one of two layman who served with North Dakota’s Catholic Bishops on the North Dakota Catholic Conference, and was President of the first Catholic School Board. He was a member of the Sertoma Service Club, the Elks, the Fargo Country Club, and Nativity Catholic Church.

Frank was the consummate family man.  He loved family vacations and gatherings, as well as socializing with his numerous friends.  In his younger years he was an avid sailor, tennis player, and downhill skier.  Later in life he and Mary relished spending time at their cabin on Lake Melissa with the grandchildren.  Frank was gregarious by nature; he always had a twinkle in his eye and a skip in his step; and he invariably saw the best in others.  He will be missed by so many.

Frank is survived by his wife of 58 years, Mary; his children, Marguerite Connolly (Frank), Minneapolis, Frank Magill, Jr. (Margaret), Minneapolis, R. Daniel Magill, Denver, Mary Elizabeth Magill (Leon  Szeptycki), Stanford, California, Robert Magill (Amy Frisch), New York City, John Magill (Kathy), Stillwater, Minnesota; thirteen grandchildren (Thomas James, Robert, Marguerite, Liza, Jack, Kirk, Nicki, Lindsay, Alex, Claire, Sam, Gus, and Cece) ; four siblings, Grace Domine, Overland Park, Kansas, Roland Magill, Lisbon, Robert Magill, California,  and James Magill, Verona.  He was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Marion Schumacher, his brother Dr. John Magill, and his granddaughter Kaitlyn Magill.

Memorials should be sent to Hospice of the Red River Valley, the Alzheimer’s Association, or the charity of the donor's choice.

The family would like to thank the staff at Touchmark at Harwood Groves for the kind and loving care shown to Frank.

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Memories Timeline


  1. glendale ArizonaMary And children I lived with you when John was born I miss you all very much If you are in the Phoenix please look me up. I am sorry for your loss.

  2. Fargo ND
    Our deepest sympathies for your loss. May you always cherish the many memories of your husband and father.

    Jason, Melissa, & Cody Mehlisch

  3. St. Louis MissouriI was honored to serve as a law clerk to Judge Magill in 1995-96. In the year that I spent in Fargo and St. Louis, where the judge spent part of that year to receive medical treatment, I was privileged to come to know Judge and Mary Magill. I remember that year fondly for many reasons – for his humor and quick smile, for his good hearted sparing with Judge Bright, for dinners with the Judge and Mary and the other clerks, for the event of oral arguments, for long summer afternoons at the lake. Judge Magill gave me a piece of advice at the start of my clerkship – “get it right”. Simple and succinct advice that has served me well in law and beyond. I offer my deep condolences to Mary and to the Judge and Mary’s family. Judge Magill was well loved in life and those who knew him will always cherish his memory.

  4. KansasMary & family~
    I was so sorry to hear of Frank’s passing. What an amazing man with an accomplished life! I’m honored to have had the privilege of knowing and caring for Frank and your family during my time at Touchmark. Frank was such a sweet man and unique soul. I pray that you will feel God’s comfort, strength, and peace now and in the coming days. Take care of yourselves and God bless!

    God’s Richest Blessings to you and your family.

    ~Maren Moseng, RN
    Abilene, KS

  5. Chicago ILDear Mary and family:

    As a former law clerk of Judge Magill’s, I was deeply saddened to hear of his passing. My clerkship year with the Judge had a profound impact on my career and life. I not only learned the invaluable perspective of the Judge, but, more importantly, I saw the Judge model how one can couple a commitment to family first with career success.

    I extend my deepest condolences to all of you in this time of loss.

    Todd Steenson

  6. Dear Mary and Entire Magill Family,

    We are thinking of you during this difficult time. We will always remember the many wonderful times we spent with you and Frank, as neighbors in Fargo and as guests at the lake. May the memories of Frank each of you hold in your hearts bring comfort to you. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

    Love and Hugs,
    Barb, Dan and Alex Ames

  7. Peoria IllinoisDear Liz and family, Please know that you are held close in prayer during this time. May your dad be at peace in Our Heavenly Father’s Arms and may those same Arms surround you with peace.

  8. Grand Forks ND
    Sorry to learn of Mr. Magill’s passing. My prayers and thoughts are for you and the family.

    Kathy Ashe, Ginny Lynch’s daughter

  9. My thoughts and prayers are with Judge Magill’s family. I won’t ever forget my time as his clerk and my year in Fargo.

  10. Golden Valley MN
    Hello Magills,
    Sorry to hear of Frank passing.

    I have a great memory of Frank making the best pancakes on Fern Beach. I could smell them next door, and I am pretty sure that my brother and I would invite ourselves over several times during the summer. He always welcomed us with a big smile and served them up!

    My thoughts go out to all of you.

    Steve Lovell

  11. Dear Mrs. Magill, Meg and Frank, Frank Jr. and Margaret: I was saddened to hear of the Judge’s passing. He and all of you are in my thoughts and prayers, and I have many good memories of happy times together.

    Requiescat in pacem.

    – Mike Wahoske

  12. Arlington VAI was very sorry to hear of Judge Magill’s passing. The Judge and his family made my year in Fargo as his law clerk such an enjoyable one. His will be an easy life to celebrate.

  13. Columbia Heights MN
    Liz and family, my sincere condolences on the loss of your father. You will remain in my thoughts and prayers. Shannon

  14. I met Frank one month ago when my mom entered memory care at Touchmark. I enjoyed greeting him with a big smile…
    how is it going today Your Honor!

    He always looked up at me, grinned and said, good!

    My thoughts are you Mary and your family, he was a remarkable man, celebrate his life. He would want it that way.


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