U.S. Marshal Reginald Madsen: Behind the Scenes Yet Ever Present


By Adair Law

U.S. Marshal Reginald Madsen (1940-2021), who served the U.S. District Court in that capacity from 1994 to 2001, recently passed away in Island City, Oregon. Known by most as Reg, Mr. Madsen was born in Keshena, Wisconsin on the Menominee Indian Reservation. He served in the U.S. Navy, received a degree from Clark College in Vancouver, Washington, and later attended the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. He began his career in law enforcement as a police officer in the Vancouver Police Department. He went on to serve the Oregon State Police. He capped off the last three years of his service (1968-93) there as superintendent. After his retirement from the Oregon State Police, Governor Barbara Roberts and then-Congressman Ron Wyden put forward Mr. Madsen’s name as Oregon’s U.S. Marshal. President Bill Clinton accepted their strong recommendation and appointed Mr. Madsen to the position. U.S. Marshal Reginald Madsen served at that post from 1994-2001.

The swearing in took place on October 27, 1994 at what is now called the Solomon Courthouse. Chief Judge James A. Redden opened the proceedings, noting that “Reg” was a born leader with an additional gift. “He has a delightful sense of humor, which allows him to take his serious responsibilities seriously without taking himself too seriously.”

Judges Otto Skopil, James Burns, Helen Frye, Robert E. Jones, and John Jelderks are all in attendance, sitting in the jury box. According to Judge Burns, Reginald Madsen was the 37th U.S. Marshal for the District of Oregon. Longtime court reporter Jerry Harris can be seen to the right of the podium, making the court record of the day’s proceeding. Because of the recent USDCHS digitization project, we can share this event with you. The event starts several seconds into the recording. It is a special, yet regular ceremony in the life of the court and we are pleased to be able to share this history with you.

According to a February article in the La Grande Observer, the family hoped to hold services for Mr. Madsen in Washougal, Washington in the spring.