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Associated Press, Published August 10 2009

Rodney Webb, longtime judge and prosecutor, dies at 74 after battle with cancer

UPDATED 2:07 p.m.

FARGO – U.S. District Judge Rodney Webb, appointed by former President Ronald Reagan to the federal bench in North Dakota in 1987, has died after a battle with cancer, court officials said Monday. He was 74.

Webb died Sunday afternoon, said Todd Dudgeon, the deputy in charge of the U.S. District Court office in Fargo. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Webb, a Cavalier native, earned his law degree at the University of North Dakota in 1959. He went on to serve as the prosecutor for Walsh County, a municipal judge in Grafton and as a special assistant attorney general for North Dakota.

Reagan named Webb as the U.S. attorney for North Dakota in October 1981 and appointed him to the bench six years later.

U.S. Attorney Drew Wrigley said Webb was a mentor who gave him a summer job as a first-year law student, setting up a desk in his office.

“I am literally a prosecutor today because of Judge Webb,” Wrigley said. “You will meet so many people who will have a similar story about this guy. Rod Webb was just a wise and towering figure across this region. He was good man, he was a decent man and he was a loving man.”

Gov. John Hoeven said Webb’s “good judgment, sense of fair play and concern for the legal profession did credit to the bench and credit to our state.”

Webb was a senior district judge the past seven years, meaning he was semiretired but still heard cases.

He was given the Sioux Award, the highest award given by the University of North Dakota Alumni Association in 1999, and the “Light of Justice award” from state trial lawyers.

Webb was diagnosed earlier this year with lung cancer and bone cancer, but he continued working and kept his sense of humor. When he was honored by trial lawyers in May, he told them he had some confrontational “conversations with the good Lord, lately,” and said he was told, “he was going to take my objection under advisement.”

His son, Wade, is a state district judge in Fargo. Wade Webb was sworn into office by his father in 2003.

North Dakota has two active federal judges – Ralph Erickson in Fargo and Daniel Hovland in Bismarck – and another senior district judge, Pat Conmy in Bismarck.

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