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Leonard Lindquist, 92; Lawyer Helped Unionize NFL Players

September 18, 2004|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Leonard Lindquist, a Minnesota lawyer who helped National Football League players form their first union and served as the first general counsel of the NFL Players Assn., has died. He was 92.

Lindquist died Sept. 10 in Minneapolis of complications from a fall.

Lindquist became involved with the NFL players in 1969. He was the lead negotiator when the players signed their first collective bargaining agreement with the league in 1972.

While the 1972 contract addressed pay issues as well as freedom of movement from team to team, it also addressed some of the racial restrictions that had been present in the league.

A lawyer from Lindquist's firm, Ed Garvey, was the first executive director of the players association.

"The NFLPA truly would not be the organization that it is today without his vision and leadership," Gene Upshaw, the association's executive director, said in a statement this week.

A nationally known labor mediator and arbitrator, Lindquist was the founding partner of Larson, Loevinger, Lindquist, Freeman & Fraser, which is now Lindquist & Vennum, with offices in Minneapolis and Denver. It included some of the leading names in Minnesota politics, such as former Gov. Orville Freeman and former Minneapolis Mayor Don Fraser.

Born in Minneapolis on Sept. 5, 1912, Lindquist graduated from the University of Minnesota and from the university's law school. While serving in the Navy during World War II, he met another Minnesota lawyer, Earl Larson, and the men decided to form a firm after the war.

Active in civil rights and community causes, Lindquist served two terms as a state representative in the 1950s, sponsoring legislation to ban racial discrimination in nursing homes.

Lindquist said he considered some of his most significant work to be representing Minnesota nurses in collective bargaining negotiations in the 1940s.

"Today they have their pension programs and are treated as professionals rather than as servants to the doctors," Lindquist told the Minnesota Lawyer magazine last year. "I think my work with them was memorable."

Lindquist arbitrated a case in Chicago over the summer and was working in his office until days before his death.

Survivors include his wife, Bernardine Ann Walsh; sons Lowell, Larry and L. Kelley; a brother, Walter; four grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

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