Thursday, December 11, 2014

Ordner Thorwald Bundlie Jr. (1919-2009)

From the Hendricks Pioneer, August 23, 1962.

    Pipestone County, Minnesota native Ordner Thorwald Bundlie Jr. was for many years a prominent figure in the Democratic-Farmer Labor Party in Minnesota, serving as chairman of the aforementioned county's Democratic Farmer Labor Committee beginning in 1961. In addition to serving as chairman Bundlie was a former Assistant Attorney General of Minnesota and in 1962 was an unsuccessful candidate for the Minnesota State Senate. Like Treffle G. LeClaire and Trible Dix Sutton, Mr. Bundlie's interesting name was located via the 1967-68 Who's Who In American Politics, and, as you will soon read, his inclusion in said book was most appropriate!
    The story of this lifelong Minnesota resident begins with his birth in Duluth on October 24, 1919, being the son of Ordner Thorwald Bundlie Sr. and Olive England Bundlie. Young Ordner would attend school in Eveleth, Minnesota and enrolled at the University of Minnesota in the early 1940s. He would put his studies on hold in 1942 to serve overseas in WWII, serving as a Technician Fourth Grade in the U.S. Army. He would remain in service until 1946, and after returning home married in November of that year to Shirley Ann Heikkinen (1924-1978). The couple would later have five children: Todd (died in infancy), Scott, Barbara, Andrew and Nancy.
   Following his marriage, Ordner Bundlie Jr. resumed study at the University of Minnesota Law School and graduated in the class of 1948. Shortly afterward he became a member of the law firm of Bundlie and Bundlie with his father, specializing in "Appellate, Banking, Corporate, Federal, Insurance, Real Property, Wills and Administrative Law." Through the 1950s and early 60s Bundlie's profile continued to rise in Pipestone County, as he was affiliated with several civic groups, including the local Kiwanis Club, the YMCA (of which he served as Secretary and Treasurer), the Red Cross, and was a past president of the 13th Judicial District's Bar Association.

                                                           Ordner T. Bundlie, from the 1941 Gopher Yearbook.

   In 1956 Order Bundlie entered into the post of Assistant Attorney General of Minnesota, being sworn into office in July of that year by state Attorney General Miles Lord. Bundlie would serve in that capacity for four years, and in 1961 began service as Chairman of the Pipestone County Democratic Farmer-Labor Committee. In addition to his serving as chairman Bundlie also served as a delegate to that party's state conventions of 1962, 1964 and 1966.
   After leaving the position of Assistant Attorney General in 1960 Bundlie returned to practicing law. In 1962 he announced his candidacy for a seat in the Minnesota State Senate from the 20th district (comprising the counties of Pipestone, Lyons and Lincoln). Throughout the latter part of 1962 Bundlie stumped throughout that district, and on August 16th of that year spoke at a meeting in Ivanhoe, Minnesota. During this meeting he cautioned voters to choose carefully when selecting a state senator, noting that:
"When the voters of this district elect a man to serve in the senate, he is supposed to represent--in the fullest and truest sense--the hopes and wishes of the majority of the people in the district. But there are some legislators who at time become so thoroughly convinced by lobbyists of special interest groups that they actually vote against the best interests of their home districts. The people of our district deserve more than wishy-washy negative representation"
   In the remaining months of the campaign season, Bundlie continued to court voters and was featured in a large campaign notice in the Lake Benton Tribune on October 25th of that year. That notice (shown below) details a portion of his campaign platform, including the "overhauling" of Minnesota's tax structure and the advocation of a state college within close proximity to the 20th district. On election day 1962, it was Bundlie's opponent, non-partisan candidate Joseph A. Josefson (1915-2007) who emerged victorious, besting him by a vote of 10, 540 to 5, 498.

A Bundlie campaign advertisement from the Lake Benton News, Oct. 25, 1962

   Despite his senate loss Ordner Bundlie continued to be a prominent figure in Pipestone county public life for many years afterward. He would serve as a public defender for Pipestone County and in 1970 was selected by then Governor Harold LeVander to serve as a special municipal judge for the city of Pipestone. In 1976 Bundlie succeeded Jim Manion as County Judge of Pipestone County and served on the bench until 1978. He was defeated for reelection that year by David E. Christensen, but would subsequently appeal the election results. A court ruling later decided in favor of Christensen, who would serve on the bench until his retirement in February 2012.
   Late in his life, Bundlie served as a state law judge, retiring from that office in 1993. Widowed in 1978, he would remarry in 1981 to Donna Gerken, who died in 2006 at age 70. After many years of public service Order Bundlie died on February 14, 2009, several months short of his 90th birthday. He had been a resident of Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota and was survived by four of his children, with his burial taking place at the Ft. Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis. 


  1. Thank you so much for writing this piece on my grandpa, it's really neat to learn more about his work in the community. He was a wonderful man, and definitely did have a truly unique name!

    1. Hello Lauren,

      Very happy to know that you enjoyed reading my piece on your grandfather. A truly unique name indeed! If you know of any other pertinent information on your grandfather that you'd would like to see included in his profile here, please feel free to drop a message at the site's Facebook page (which you can access via the site here.)

      Thanks again and best wishes,


  2. I had written a comment earlier, but looks like it may have disappeared? Anyway, I was looking for my Grandfather, Ordner Thorwald Bundlie, Sr., when I came across your site. Thanks for the wonderful write up of my Uncle (my Dad's brother)! I use to call him "Uncle Bun" and visit Pipestone often. Later we called him Uncle Ord and we'd visit many times when he and Donna settled closer to Minneapolis, where we lived. I will certainly pass on your link to my family. I know they would be thrilled to read this. Thank you!

  3. Thanks for this great information on my favorite uncle. I learned some things I didn't know.