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C. Warner Litten

C.Warner Litten, 1936, Healthcare Executive and Community Servant

There are few alumni of Sigma Alpha Epsilon who have had such a profound impact on the City of Fargo than Mr. Fargo himself, C. Warner Litten.  He was among a cadre of dedicated men and women of the post-World War II era who dedicated themselves to Fargo's improvement. Upon returning to Fargo after the war, they recognized the city's potential and undertook it upon themselves to realize that potential.  In the last half of the 20th Century, this group of city leaders led a number of initiatives that laid the groundwork for modern Fargo.  C. Warner was born in Kansas City on November 28, 1914 to Charles and Kathleen Litten.  The Littens moved to Fargo in 1917. He attended Horace Mann, Roosevelt Jr. High, Central High School and North Dakota State University.  At NDSU he was business manager for the yearbook, president of Blue Key Honorary Fraternity, and president of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity.  He graduated with a B.A. in business in 1936.  He began his career in Bismarck with Northwestern Bell Telephone Company.  


On June 28, 1941 he married Mary Elizabeth 9Betty) Baillie.  He enlisted in the Army in 1942, and became an instructor at Ft. Benning, GA, and was assigned to the 5th Infantry, 71 st Division in the European Theatre.  He led his company in occupied Germany, and his company received the "Stars and Stripes" for the best morale in the regiment.  The men in. his company attributed the award to C. Warner's enthusiasm.  He told his men that "nothing great can be accomplished without enthusiasm."  In 1946, C. Warner returned to Fargo, and he was appointed Civilian Aide to the Army Secretary for the State of North Dakota.  he was the first post-World War II veteran to be elected as Commander of the Gilbert C Grafton Post of the American Legion.  


While working for the telephone company he was offered the position of the Fargo Clinic Business Manager.  Through his position at Fargo Clinic, he represented the clinic to the community and became involved in community affairs.  C. Warner was the chairman of the successful campaign to obtain the "All American City" designation in 1959. This was not the only effort where C. Warner's talent as a leader and organizer were called upon.  He was involved in virtually every major community committee, sub-committee, task force and fund drive in Fargo for the next forty years.  community activities was but one of his three careers, the others including business and politics.  he regarded community service as "tonic for his soul".  C. Warner's efforts as a community servant included: President and member of the board of Directors of the Fargo board of Education; Chamber of Commerce; jaycees; North Central Educational TV; FM YMCA; Red River Zoological Society; Rotary club; the Fargo-Moorhead Area Foundation; Community Chest (United Way); the YMCA million dollar fund drive; Friends of the Depot Plaza Committee; 1975 Fargo-Moorhead Centennial; Board of Directors of Jamestown college; Red River Valley Fair; Trollwood Performing Arts; Hospice of the Red River Valley; Fargo Pubic Library; North Dakota School of Religion; first Bank of North Dakota; American Life and Casualty Co.; and the FM Heart Health Program.  He was a member of the Elks, the Masonic Lodge, the Eagles and the El Zagel Shrine.  


In 1973, C. Warner was named Outstanding Senator of North Dakota while serving as the Majority Leader in the State Senat. His bi-partisanship approach demonstrated his ability to work with both parties in realizing efforts to promote the common good.  "Civic involvement is merely the rent I pay for having the privilege of living in Fargo,"  he always said.  His leadership of the Fargo Clinic resulted in him being elected as president of the National Medical Group management Association and the American College of Medical Practice Executives from which he received the Harry Harwick Award of Excellence in 1976.  He was awarded the NDSU Alumni Award for Achievement as well as an Honorary Doctorate from NDSU.  C. Warner's distinguished service was also recognized by awards from the Cosmopolitan Club, Jaycees, NDSU Business Alumni Award, the Red River Historical Society Hall of Fame Award, and the Greater North Dakota Award.  C. Warner Litten passed away on July 26, 2006 and is being honored posthumously for his years of service.  He is survived by his four children: Jeanie Lagerwerff, Kathy McConahey, Chip Litten, and Mary Sayler; eight grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.  His wife Betty passed away in 2002.  

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