Myer Shark Obituary

Star Tribune 5/17/2007

Shark, Myer 94, of St. Louis Park, MN, an attorney and tireless consumer advocate, died on May 16, 2007. He was born in Devils Lake, North Dakota, and was a 43-year resident of Fargo before moving to the Twin Cities in 1999. He is survived by Marjorie, his wife of 67 years. Myer graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1936. He practiced law until the day he died and was known as a consummate advocate for fairness and justice, especially in utility matters. He also had a full-time career in his family’s clothing and real estate businesses. He resumed the full-time practice of law when the retail business closed in the mid-’70s. From his earliest years, Myer carried the commitment and instinct to make things right in the world into all his activities, from being president of the Devils Lake School Board and Chamber of Commerce to his role as a volunteer lawyer on behalf of low-income consumers well into his 90s. Once Myer was able to step away from the family business, he passionately devoted himself and his many talents to advocating on behalf of consumer interests in utility matters until literally the day he died. An expert in utility law whose thorough, persistent, and insightful approaches were admired and respected by allies and opponents alike, Myer never gave up despite fewer successes in the courts than he would have liked. Last year the New York Times gave coverage to his most recent set of issues, which drew national attention to his cause. Myer was a man of boundless energy who devoted time to his family and his many leisure pursuits. He was an avid figure skater and bike rider into his 90s, a gardener and organizer extraordinaire who lived by the motto “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.” Myer was a cherished example to his family, and he had abundant pride in and love for his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Throughout their lives he acted as their mentor and unofficial agent, freely offering advice and guidance. Survived by his wife of 67 years, Marjorie, St. Louis Park, MN; children, Janet Frisch, Golden Valley, MN; Bud (Barbara), Lyons, CO; Miriam, Baltimore, MD; Steve (Kathy), Fargo, ND; five grandchildren, Ben (Ione), Matt (Will), Suzy (Steve Swenson) Frisch; Zoe Shark (fiancé, Paul Whyman); Addison Shark; and four great-grandchildren, Miles and Bradley Frisch, Maddie and Grace Swenson, and sister-in-law, Lorraine Shark. Funeral service FRIDAY 11:00 AM, ADATH JESHURUN CONGREGATION, 10500 Hillside Lane West, Minnetonka. In lieu of flowers, donations preferred to Sons of Jacob Devils Lake Cemetery Memorial, 524 Fourth Avenue, #27, Devils Lake, ND 58302; or the Minnesota Volunteer Lawyers Network, 600 Nicollet Mall, Suite 390A, Minneapolis, MN, 55402. SHIVA, Sunday evening at 6:30 PM at Knollwood Place, 3630 Phillips Parkway, St. Louis Park. Memorial service at a later date in Fargo at Temple Beth El. Hodroff-Epstein 612-871-1234 Online guestbook at:

Myer Shark, Lawyer Who Fought Utility, Is Dead at 94
New York Times

Myer Shark, a Minnesota consumer lawyer whose last case sought to recover $300 million of taxes that electric customers paid a utility but that federal and state governments never received, died yesterday in a suburb of Minneapolis, days after filing the final papers in the case. He was 94.

His death was announced by a daughter, Janet Frisch. He died at a hospice in St. Louis Park, Minn.

The taxes Mr. Shark sought were embedded in the electric rates paid by customers of Xcel Energy’s Minnesota electric utility. The government did not get the money because a sister company went bankrupt, generating a huge tax refund for Xcel. Mr. Shark’s pursuit of the case inspired investigations and hearings in at least four other states.

“The law says utilities are entitled to just and reasonable returns,” Mr. Shark said three weeks ago. “When the utility pockets money that they got from ratepayers, money that was supposed to pay taxes, then they are earning unjust and unreasonable rates and I’m going to fight that as long as I’m alive.”
Ron Giteck, an assistant Minnesota attorney general, said that in the weeks before he died, Mr. Shark “filed everything that needed to be filed so the case can be decided” by the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

Last week the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission awarded Mr. Shark $20,000, the maximum allowed under state law, for his pursuit of the tax case on behalf of ratepayers. In an era when lawyer fees in a case can run into the tens of millions of dollars, Mr. Shark had asked for $160 an hour plus $437 in expenses, for a total of $30,000. Xcel opposed any payment.

Mr. Shark was born in Devils Lake, N.D., and graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1936.

In addition to his daughter Janet, of Golden Valley, Minn., he is survived by his wife of 67 years, Marjorie, of St. Louis Park, Minn.; another daughter, Miriam Shark of Baltimore; two sons, Bud, of Lyons, Colo., and Steve, of Fargo, N.D.; five grandchildren; and four great- grandchildren.