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Gilbert Schlagel, 80

Gilbert Schlagel, age 80, of Eagan, and formerly of Howard Lake, died Saturday, July 31, 2004.

A longtime St. Paul lawyer who during World War II helped liberate the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau, Gilbert grew up in Howard Lake, and went to Hamline University, St. Paul, on a music scholarship. He played the clarinet and saxophone.

He served as an Army tank commander in campaigns along the Rhine and Danube rivers and in southern Germany.

“He was involved in finding places like Dachau and freeing those prisoners,” said Mary Schlagel, his wife of 50 years. “He had a job he certainly didn’t like, and that was emptying the crematoriums.”

Schlagel was proud of his service, she said, and the two of them later visited the places he had helped liberate.

After the war, Gilbert took medical and law school entrance exams, but ultimately decided to become a lawyer, and graduated from William Mitchell College of Law.

He practiced law for 44 years in St. Paul, before retiring in 1966.

“He did mostly personal injury work,” Mary said. “He started off alone, by himself, and never joined a firm. He was determined to make it on his own.”

Throughout his career, Schlagel did his best to help people who couldn’t afford a lawyer, by doing pro bono work, she said. After retiring, he volunteered for the American Arbitration Association, helping people settle small-claims disputes.

In the 1960s, Schlagel also was active in starting the Dominic Club, a social club for young people. He served as one of the early presidents, and even met his wife through the club.

“He just thought young people should have a decent place where they could go, have a good time, dance, and meet each other,” Mary said.

Schlagel also continued with music, playing with smaller bands around the area.

He lived in Mendota Heights for 42 years, recently moving to Eagan.

In addition to his wife, Gilbert is survived by sons Stephen and John; daughter Nancy Ann Maloney; three grandchildren; brothers Donald, Cecil, and Alden; sister Dorothy Kritzeck, and many nieces and nephews.

Private funeral services took place Monday Aug. 9, with burial at Resurrection Cemetery.

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