UNITED STATES—It was revealed on Monday, April 19 that former Vice President and 1984 Democratic presidential nominee Walter “Fritz” Mondale passed away at age 93 at his home in Minneapolis, Minnesota, according to a family spokesperson.
President Joe Biden said in a statement released by The White House that Mondale “was one of the first people to greet me” when he joined the U.S. Senate in 1973 and “through his work as a Senator, he showed me what was possible.” He added, “there have been few senators, before or since, who commanded such universal respect.”
Vice President Kamala Harris tweeted on April 19:
“Vice President Walter Mondale led an extraordinary life of service — in uniform during the Korean War, as a Senator, and as Vice President. I was able to speak with him just a few days ago and thank him for his service. I’ll miss him dearly, and my heart is with his family today.”
Walter Frederick Mondale was born in Ceylon, Minnesota on January 5, 1928. His father was a minister and his mother taught music. In 1950, Mondale graduated from the University of Minnesota and enlisted in the army. After being discharged in 1952, Mondale went to law school and graduated in 1956, according to his biography on the U.S. Senate’s website.
He was appointed by former Minnesota Governor Orville Freeman to become the state’s attorney general. He was later elected in the fall of 1960 and re-elected two years later.
After the 1964 presidential election, former Minnesota Governor Karl Rolvaag appointed Mondale to a U.S. Senate seat previously held by Hubert Humphrey, who was about to be sworn in as vice president. Mondale held the seat for 12 years before being asked by former President Jimmy Carter to be his vice president.
President Carter and Vice President Walter Mondale won the 1976 presidential election against President Gerald Ford and former Senator Bob Dole and held office until they were defeated by President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George H.W. Bush in 1980.
Nearly 44 years ago in 1984, Mondale ran for president against Reagan. Mondale became the first candidate in history to select a woman as his vice president, former Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro. Reagan ended up winning re-election, with Mondale only winning Washington D.C. and his home state of Minnesota.
He was appointed as ambassador to Japan, a position he held from 1993-1996, under former President Bill Clinton.
In 2015, the former Vice President was awarded with the Public Leadership in Neurology Award for his “decades-long commitment to raising awareness for brain diseases,” the American Academy of Neurology said in a press release in April 2015.
In 2002, 18 years after losing the presidential election, Mondale became the Democratic nominee for a Minnesota Senate seat that became vacant after former U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone, who was running for re-election, died in a plane crash. His opponent, Norm Coleman, won the race by a few points.
In a press release by the Carter Center, former President Carter called Vice President Mondale “the best vice president in our country’s history” and an “invaluable partner” who “used his political skill and personal integrity to transform the vice presidency into a dynamic, policy-driving force that had never been seen before and still exists today.”
Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who represents Minnesota’s 5th congressional district (including Minneapolis) called Mondale a “giant in Minnesota politics” as well as “an advocate for peace, fair housing, women’s rights and consumer protection for the better part of five decades in politics. We thank you, Mr. Vice President, and promise to continue the fight for justice and civil rights.”
Mondale is survived by his sons, Ted and William. His daughter, Eleanor, died in 2011 from brain cancer and his wife, Joan, passed away three years later in 2014.