Civic Caucus Founders
Verne C. Johnson
(deceased) Chair, 2005 to November, 2012 - Verne served as chair of the Civic Caucus since its beginning in 2005 to his death in November 2012. Verne was president of the VCJ Foundation, whose primary focus is education for those being left behind. From 1983 until 1997 he was President and CEO of Altcare, a social responsibility venture established by General Mills and the Wilder Foundation. Verne served General Mills as Vice President of Corporate Planning for 14 years and as vice president of Public Responsibility Planning and Venture Development for a year before his early retirement in 1983.
Verne served from 1957 to 1967 as Executive Director of the Citizens League, and later as its Chair and as a member of its Board of Directors. He was for 30 years a member of the Fairview Board of Directors. He was a member of the Minnesota House of Representative in his 20s and served for three years as Administrative Assistant to Congressman Walter Judd of Minnesota. Verne graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1950.
(deceased) Charles Clay was an original member of the Civic Caucus. An attorney, Clay received a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Minnesota and a law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School. After serving as a law clerk for Justice Knutson of the Minnesota Supreme Court, Clay began his legal career at the Soo Line Railroad, becoming Executive Vice President–Assistant to the President before leaving in 1984 to practice with the Minneapolis law firm of Head, Seifert & Vander Weide.
In 1987, Clay, with two partners, founded a short line railroad, the Red River Valley & Western, serving Minnesota and North Dakota. This was followed by three more short lines and a railroad equipment company. Clay continues to serve on the Boards of Directors of the companies he co-founded.
Clay served many years on the Board of Directors of the Citizens League, and was its President in 1965-66. Clay chaired the League's Metropolitan Affairs Committee, which lead to the establishment of the Metropolitan Council, and its Metropolitan Sewage Committee, which lead to the establishment of the Twin Cities Metropolitan Sewer District. He also served on many other Citizens League committees. Clay served on the Board of Directors of Deaconess Hospital, and on the Edina School Board, where his three children attended school. He was involved in many other local civic activities. Clay lived in Edina with his wife, Audrey.
Raeder Larson, deceased, was part of the original foursome whose weekly public-policy discussions, beginning in 1950, led to the formation of the Civic Caucus of today. Larson was a graduate of the University of Minnesota and the University of Minnesota Law School. In 1979, after some years in private practice, he joined the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Minnesota, where he served as assistant clerk of court. A treasured mentor to judges and lawyers, he was revered for his knowledge, even temper, and wisdom and came to be universally known as the "Bankruptcy Guru." Every year since 2001, the Bankruptcy Section of the Minnesota State Bar Association has awarded the Raeder Larson Public Service Award for outstanding service to the public through the provision of pro bono legal services and dedication to a system of equal justice for all.
Jim Olson was an original member of the Civic Caucus during the 1950s in Minneapolis, while he served on the faculty of the University of Minnesota. He then moved to Illinois and served on the faculty of the University of Illinois (1958-1965) and of Millikin University in Decatur (1965-1987). He taught courses in economics and statistics, prior to his retirement as an Emeritus Professor of Economics and Business Administration in 1987. Olson is also a retired major in the Air Force Reserve.
Olson has retained an interest in election statistics and redistricting matters in Minnesota (and elsewhere) and is sometimes referred to as "the election expert," a title that is warranted because he is "over 50 miles from Minnesota." He received his BBA, MA, and PhD degrees from the University of Minnesota.
(deceased) John Mooty was an original member of the Civic Caucus. He began his practice of law with Gray Plant Mooty in 1944. He became a partner in 1954 and served as a managing officer of the firm for more than 20 years. He died in 2015. He is best known for rebuilding franchise corporations such as International Dairy Queen and National Car Rental. He served on the boards of several corporations. In addition, he was the general partner in the development of Rio Verde, Tonto Verde and Vista Verde, golfing retirement communities near Scottsdale, AZ.
John had substantial community involvement in political and community organizations, including serving as past president of the University of Minnesota Alumni Association, Minneapolis Rotary Club, Citizens League, and St. John's Lutheran Church. He was Chairman of the Governor's Task Force on Education and a representative on the Uniform Laws Commission.
He was repeatedly named as a "Minnesota Super Lawyer" and once was noted as the oldest "Super Lawyer." In 2003, he was named to the Minnesota Business Hall of Fame. John earned his law degree (LL.B.) from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1944 and his bachelor's degree (BSL) from the University of Minnesota in 1943.