FARGO-A prominent Fargo family is immersed in a divorce case making its way through Cass County District Court, with an estate estimated at $50 million on the line.

Early in 2016, Earlyne Hector filed for divorce from her husband, Fred Hector, whose family name is reflected in the moniker of Fargo's airport.

Fred Hector filed a counterclaim. According to arguments made in a court hearing last summer, Fred Hector was concerned his wife was trying to take control of their estate.

The matter is currently scheduled for trial on March 13, 2017.

A court hearing held in July before Judge John Irby provided a glimpse into the financial life of a family that has been a significant player in Fargo's real estate and business world for decades.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live
Newsletter signup for email alerts

Fargo Hector International Airport sits on land gifted to the city by the Hector Family. Rose Creek Golf Course, which is operated by the Fargo Park District, also was built on land donated by the Hector family.

Based on a transcript of what was discussed during the July court hearing, at the center of the divorce case is an estate valued at about $50 million.

The reason for the hearing was a request by Earlyne Hector that the court compel Fred Hector to transfer $500,000 to her and additionally pay her $30,000 a month while the divorce case remains pending.

Todd Zimmerman, an attorney for Earlyne Hector, told Irby the transfers were necessary to help Earlyne Hector cover her expenses, including the cost of the ongoing litigation. He said it was also a step toward leveling the playing field between the two litigants, as he said Fred Hector controlled the lion's share of the estate the couple built over 56 years of marriage.

Zimmerman said Earlyne Hector had control over about $725,000, or approximately 1.5 percent of the estate.

He also told the judge Fred Hector was "spending out of the marital assets liberally, and as he wishes" and he estimated Fred Hector was spending about $128,000 a month to cover travel expenses and other costs, including the cost of advisors and attorneys.

Sonja Trom Eayrs, an attorney for Fred Hector, described the situation differently, telling Judge Irby the bulk of the Hector estate was passed to Fred Hector following the death of his mother in the late 1970s.

Eayrs said it is Fred Hector's belief that his wife had a master plan to gain control of as much of the Hector wealth as possible.

Eayrs told the court Earlyne Hector controls a number of assets not reflected in the holdings mentioned by her attorneys, including Rose Creek Development-a large residential development in Fargo-and a company called ERL, which was associated with the now closed Seasons at Rose Creek restaurant.

According to Eayrs, Fred Hector discovered a number of years ago that his wife had moved assets valued at $10 million to $15 million into an irrevocable trust she has control over.

Eayrs said if the situation wasn't changed, Earlyne Hector stood to gain "the $20 million over here that she has squirreled away," plus half of what remained of the $50 million estate.

"So she gets $45 million and my client would end up with $25 million," Eayrs told the judge.

Judge Irby ordered the transfer of $500,000 to Earlyne Hector and he ruled she was to receive an additional $30,000 a month while the litigation was pending.

The judge also shared this, according to the transcript of the court hearing: "We have elderly litigants here and a lot of assets. At the end of the day, nobody is going to be in the breadline on this one."

Zimmerman and Eayrs declined to comment on what they described as a personal matter between the parties.