Joe Justad was well known as the long-running Village Recorder/City Clerk of St. Louis Park from 1939 to 1964. Neighborhood kids remember calling him “Daddy Joe.”
Joe was born on March 3, 1896, in Lowell, Massachusetts. He served 18 months with the 42nd Division overseas during WWI. On July 2, 1919, he married his wife Mildred (“Millie.)” They moved to the Park on October 31, 1927. Their address in 1930 was 3716 Alabama Ave.
In 1930-38 he was a department manager of a dry goods store.
He took the job of Village Recorder on a trial basis on January 1, 1939. It was an elective office until the City Charter became effective in January 1955, when the job, now known as City Clerk, became appointive. At that time he no longer had a vote on the City Council. He kept that job until he retired on November 30, 1964.
In 1938 the Hennepin County Historical Society had outgrown its quarters in Oak Hill School. Justad persuaded the Village Council to allow the Society to occupy the second floor of the Village Hall. Joe became treasurer of the organization on October 20, 1950 and Director in 1964. He was elected executive secretary and assistant treasurer on July 1, 1965 and served in that capacity until 1973.
In 1940 the Justads lived at 3502 Texas in Oak Hill.
Justad was a member of several churches over the years, attending Union Congregational in the 1920s, St. Louis Park Evangelical Free Church (since 1943), Wooddale Baptist Church (sic), Norwegian Free Church, and the Chapel at the Minnesota Veterans’ Home. Joe and Mildred also traveled 42 miles to the Presbyterian Church in Big Lake where Mildred served as organist while Joe served as Sunday School Superintendent and taught an adult Sunday School Class.
He was instrumental in starting the Lion’s Club in the Park, and served as a Boy Scout troop leader. He held offices in a great number of professional organizations, at his retirement received the C.C. Ludwig Award for Outstanding Municipal Service by the League of Minnesota Municipalities.
In 1960 the City Council voted to allow Justad to work beyond the City’s mandatory retirement age.
In recognition of his service to the community, Justad Park was dedicated on October 10, 1973. The 2.2 acre park at Cambridge and Alabama had been acquired by the City in 1962.
Joe Justad died in July 1975 at the age of 79. He is buried at Fort Snelling.
The Justads had four children:
Daniel H. Justad of Indianapolis
J. Allen Justad of Bothell, Washington
John D. Justad of Minneapolis
Mike Justad of Minneapolis
They also had many foster children and grandchildren.