Navigate this section

The Third Branch

Obituaries

Judge Richard D. Galstad

Judge Richard D. Galstad

Judge Richard D. Galstad
Trempealeau County Circuit Court

Former Trempealeau County Circuit Court Judge Richard D. Galstad passed away on May 29 at the age of 84.

Galstad served on the circuit court bench from 1983-94, and continued to serve as a reserve judge after his retirement. According to an oral history conducted by Judge John A. Damon in 2013, Galstad performed 300 weddings during his time on the bench. According to the same interview, Galstad never took a vacation during his 11 years as a judge.

After graduating from UW-La Crosse and UW Law School, and serving as a naval supply officer in the U. S. Navy, Galstad was appointed to the bench by then-Gov. Tony Earl in 1983. Prior to his appointment, he worked in private practice. He served as faculty, advisory and a facilitator of the National Judicial College.

Galstad was a member of the Masonic Lodge for 60 years, served on the Osseo-Fairchild school board, was a charter member of the Osseo Lions Club, and served as a district judge for the American Legion. He was appointed to the State Mining Board by former Gov. Lee Dreyfus.

Galstad is survived by his wife, Patsy; five daughters; eight grandchildren; and two great grandchildren.

Judge William D. Gardner III
Milwaukee County Circuit Court

Judge William D. Gardner III

Judge William D. Gardner III

William D. Gardner III, former Milwaukee County Circuit Court judge, passed away at the age of 81 on July 5.

Gardner was elected to the Branch 16 bench in 1979, defeating incumbent Fred St. Clair. Gardner attended St. Francis Seminary, and served two years in the U.S. Army before deciding to pursue a career in law. He received his law degree from Marquette University Law School. According to an obituary in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Gardner worked three jobs: digging ditches for a gas company, selling beer at the County Stadium, and delivering mail for the post office, to put himself through law school.

Prior to his election to the circuit court, he served as deputy district attorney for Milwaukee County. He was named to the position by then District Atty. E. Michael McCann, who had been his teammate on the St. Francis football team.

Gardner retired from the circuit court in 1997, but continued to serve as a reserve judge for the next 10 years. He formerly presided over the children's division, and served as an instructor on juvenile juries, termination of parental rights, and traffic laws and penalties at the Wisconsin Judicial Conference.

He is survived by his wife, Joanne; two sons; two stepdaughters; a stepson; seven grandchildren; and four great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Joy.

Judge Leo F. Schlaefer
Washington County Circuit Court

Judge Leo F. Schlaefer

Judge Leo F. Schlaefer

Former Washington County Circuit Court Judge Leo F. Schlaefer passed away on June 20. He was 85.

In 1988, Schlaefer was the first judge elected to serve on the newly created Branch 4 in Washington County. He served until his retirement in 2000. He continued to serve as a reserve judge for several years after his retirement. He was a former presiding judge and former deputy chief judge for District Three.

Schlaefer graduated from St. Norbert College and UW Law School. He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1951-55. Prior to his election to the bench, he worked in private practice.

According to an obituary, he was a former Washington County chair of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Stewardship Appeal, a past-president of the Washington County Bar Association, and former member of the local chapter of the American Red Cross board of directors. In his free time he was active in a barbershop quartet, "The Half Notes."

He is survived by his wife, Marilyn; three daughters, and 11 grandchildren.

Judge Norman L. Yackel
Sawyer County Circuit Court

Judge Norman L. Yackel

Judge Norman L. Yackel

Retired Sawyer County Circuit Court Judge Norman L. Yackel passed away Aug. 21 at the age of 75.

Yackel retired from the circuit court in 2009 after serving 18 years. In 2004-05, he presided over the first-degree murder trial of Chai Vang, who was convicted of killing six hunters in Northern Wisconsin. The trial received national media attention, and Yackel said it was one of the highlights of his career.

Yackel was first appointed in 1991, and served on the Uniform Bond Committee of the Judicial Conference. He had previously served as a district attorney for the county and worked in private practice. He was a graduate of the University of Minnesota, where he received his bachelor's and law degrees.

Yackel is survived but his wife, Donna, and their two children.

"Norm was a terrific man and judge," Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge John J. DiMotto said. "He will be missed by all who knew him."

Back to top

Back to The Third Branch current issue