Herman Ekern

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Herman Ekern
28th Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin
In office
May 16, 1938 – January 2, 1939
Governor Philip La Follette
Preceded by Henry Gunderson
Succeeded by Walter Samuel Goodland
25th Attorney General of Wisconsin
In office
January 1, 1923 – January 3, 1927
Governor John J. Blaine
Preceded by William J. Morgan
Succeeded by John W. Reynolds Sr.
Personal details
Herman Louis Ekern

(1872-12-27)December 27, 1872
Pigeon Falls, Wisconsin, U.S.
Died December 4, 1954(1954-12-04) (aged 81)
Alma mater University of Wisconsin Law School
Known for Co-founding Lutheran Brotherhood

Herman Louis Ekern (December 27, 1872 – December 4, 1954)[1] was a Wisconsin attorney and elected official who served as the 28th Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin. He was also one of the founders of Lutheran Brotherhood.[2]


Herman Louis Ekern was born in 1872 near Pigeon Falls, Wisconsin. He was the son of Even Ekern and Elizabeth (Grimsrud) Ekern. He received a law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1894. Following his graduation, he practiced law at Whitehall, Wisconsin in co-partnership with H. A. Anderson under the firm name of Anderson & Ekern.[3]


Five years later was elected district attorney of Trempealeau County. He served three terms in the Wisconsin State Assembly, from 1903 until 1907, and was the speaker of the Assembly in his final term.[4] During his time in the Assembly, he was noted for helping design Wisconsin's life insurance code. From 1911 until 1915, he served as Wisconsin's insurance commissioner. Afterwards, he helped form a law partnership which specialized in insurance cases and helped write the Federal Soldiers' and Sailors' War Risk Insurance Act.[5]

Lifelong Lutherans, Herman Ekern and J. A. O. Preus, Minnesota insurance commissioner and future Governor of Minnesota (1921–1925) had proposed launching a not-for-profit mutual aid society. The founding of Lutheran Brotherhood came as a result of the 1917 merger convention of the Norwegian Lutheran Church of America. In 1929, Herman Ekern became president in the organization which would grow in time to become Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.[6]

Ekern later returned to his political career, serving as Wisconsin's Attorney General from 1923 until 1927. After Lieutenant Governor Henry Gunderson resigned in 1937, Governor Philip La Follette named Ekern Lieutenant Governor the following year. The appointment was challenged and upheld in State ex rel. Martin v. Ekern. After his term ended in 1939, Ekern served on the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin until 1943. Ekern later was in private law practice in Chicago and Madison.[7]

In 1949, he received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the Alumni Association of the University of Wisconsin. Herman Ekern died in 1954. The papers of Herman Ekern are maintained within the archives of the Wisconsin Historical Society.[8][9]


  1. ^ 'Obituary of Herman Ekern,' Sheboygan Press (Wisconsin), December 7, 1954, pg 26
  2. ^ 1920 Federal Census, Series: T625 Roll: 1981 Page: 97
  3. ^ Ekern is a Norwegian name (Origin of The Name Ekern) Archived 2011-06-09 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ 'Wisconsin Blue Book 1907,' Biographical Sketch of Herman L. Ekern, pg. 1172
  5. ^ Term: Ekern, Herman Lewis 1872 - 1954 (Dictionary of Wisconsin History)
  6. ^ The Early Years (Thrivent Financial for Lutherans)
  7. ^ Herman L. Ekern, 1938-1939 (Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin)
  8. ^ Papers of Herman L. Ekern (Wisconsin Historical Society)
  9. ^ "Herman L. Ekern, Madison, 1949 Distinguished Alumni Award (Wisconsin Alumni Association)". Archived from the original on 2010-12-19. Retrieved 2010-09-03.

Further reading

  • Brøndal, Jørn. Ethnic Leadership and Midwestern Politics: Scandinavian Americans and the Progressive Movement in Wisconsin, 1890-1914. Northfield, Minn.: Norwegian-American Historical Association, 2004.

External links

  • "Wisconsin Constitutional Officers; Lieutenant Governors" (PDF). State of Wisconsin Blue Book 2005–2006. Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau. July 2005. p. 31. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-10-25.
Legal offices
Preceded by
William J. Morgan
Attorney General of Wisconsin
Succeeded by
John W. Reynolds Sr.
Political offices
Preceded by
Henry Gunderson
Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin
Succeeded by
Walter Samuel Goodland
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