North Dakota Law

Updates from the University of North Dakota School of Law.

Kermit Edward Bye ’62, first UND Law graduate appointed as a United States Circuit Judge, dies at 84

Kermit Edward Bye, 84, passed away Saturday, March 20 surrounded by his loving wife, children, grandchildren and brother.

Kermit was born Jan. 13, 1937 to Margaret Brekke Bye and Kermit Bertherand Bye. He was born in the railroad section house in Hatton as a blizzard made it impossible to get to a hospital.

Kermit and his two siblings, Carl and Marge, grew up in the community of Hatton and he felt and maintained a deep connection and close ties to the area throughout his entire life. He was very proud of his heritage, being a 100% Norwegian Lutheran. His grandparents on both his mother’s and father’s side immigrated from Norway.

Growing up together in a small community like Hatton, he and Carol Beth attended school, church, and all activities together. They did not date until he went to UND and she went to Concordia. After they graduated, they were married, 63 years ago. Kermit referred to Carol Beth as his blonde scholarship as she taught school while he attended law school. They were devoted life partners, sharing undemanding love and were strongly committed to each other. She was his biggest booster.

Kermit Bye never forgot where he came from and never anticipated where he would end up. He was the BEST!

He graduated from Hatton High School in 1954, received his undergraduate degree in business and public administration from the University of North Dakota in 1959 and his law degree (Juris Doctor, with honors) from the University of North Dakota School of Law in 1962. He is the first UND Law School graduate to be appointed as a United States Circuit Judge.

Judge Bye began his legal career working for the State of North Dakota as a deputy securities commissioner from 1962 until 1964. From 1964 until 1966, he served as a special assistant attorney general in North Dakota. He then served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of North Dakota from 1966 until 1968. Thereafter, he joined the Vogel Law firm in Fargo where he practiced in both federal and state trial and appellate courts from 1968 until 2000. He practiced law with dedication and integrity which was widely known. On April 22, 1999, he was nominated by President William Jefferson Clinton to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. His nomination was unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17, 1999, and he was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Feb. 4, 2000. Judge Bye assumed senior status April 22, 2015.

Judge Bye served on the United States Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Appellate Rules and on the Eighth Circuit Judicial Council as chair of the Court Reporter Management Committee and the Rules Committee.

Judge Bye, a past president of the State Bar Association of North Dakota, is the 13th lawyer in the history of North Dakota to receive the Distinguished Service Award from the State Bar Association. He was also president of the Western States Bar Conference and the National Caucus of State Bar Associations. Long active in the American Bar Association, he is a former member of its Board of Governors and was a member of the Executive Board of the Central and East European Law Initiative (CEELI), which is supported by the U.S. State Department and sponsored by the American Bar Association. He found it to be a humbling experience to bring the rule of law to those in other countries. He represented the judges and lawyers of North Dakota as North Dakota’s State Delegate to the ABA House of Delegates.

He was the chair of the Advisory Board and a founder of the North Dakota Small Business Investment Company, and served on the Board of Directors of the Greater North Dakota Association and State Executive Board of U.S. West (now CenturyLink) Communications, Inc. He served on numerous other boards of businesses, civic and philanthropic organizations, to include as vice chairman and founding member of the Board of Trustees of the Hope Lutheran Church Foundation, and was a founder and member of the Board of Directors of the North Dakota State University Hockey Club, Inc.

He is a past member of the North Dakota Combined Law Enforcement Council and past member of the Board of Directors of the Southeast Mental Health Center, and past chair and Board member of the Red River Human Services Foundation in Fargo.

Kermit was a member of Hope Lutheran Church where he served on the church council, and importantly, he was one of the founders of the Hope Lutheran Foundation. He had a quiet and reserved faith and led by example. He was a good and faithful servant. He was a member of the Lions Club, the Sons of Norway, the Rotary Club and the Elks Club.

He had a lifelong interest in photography. As many of you know, he took thousands of photos. He enjoyed following all sports. He especially loved the game of hockey, following the UND Fighting Sioux (now the Hawks) for many years! He taught his family the joy of travel. He felt travel was important for learning and made sure to take his family through most of the United States and Canada.

The diagnoses of Alzheimer’s disease challenged many of the qualities that defined him. However, he made the very best of a difficult situation, setting an extraordinary example for all of us. Kermit enjoyed being at his lake home on Pelican Lake and so enjoyed, in the last years, the long and leisurely boat rides. Those rides brought him a feeling of calm and contentment.

Kermit is survived by his beloved wife, Carol Beth, their three children, Laura Lee (Anthony Yuill), William Edward (Denise Schultz) and Bethany Ann (Stephan Lindemann), their four grandsons, Brekken (Gaby Klomstad) and Britton Klomstad and Oscar and Conrad Lindemann, his brother, Carl (Wanda Bye), nephews and cousins.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Margaret and Kermit Bye and his sister, Marjorie Bye Campbell.

Kermit Bye was a kind man devoted to his family, the law and had a deep love for both. He was a very down to earth person and titles never changed him.

The family expresses its sincere gratitude to the entire staff and caregivers at Eventide Memory Care Unit, Sanford ICU and Hospice House. Your concern, support and tender care made all the difference to our entire family in the last several days of his life.

A memorial service will be held 1 p.m. Saturday, March 27 at Hope Lutheran Church, 2900 Broadway N, Fargo. We kindly ask that all who attend wear masks. There will be livestreaming of the service at the Hanson-Runsvold Funeral Home website. Memories and condolences may also be shared by visitingĀ

Memorials are preferred to the Hope Lutheran Church Foundation, the UND School of Law and theĀ Alzheimer’s Association. Arrangements by Hanson-Runsvold Funeral Home, Fargo.

Kermit Edward Bye Obituary (Legacy)