Former Vice President Walter Frederick Mondale died Monday at the age of 93, his family said in a statement.
“It is with deep sadness that we share the news that our beloved father passed away today in Minneapolis, Minnesota,” the statement read. “As proud as we were to lead him on the presidential ticket to the Democrats in 1984, we know our father’s public policy legacy is much more than that. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 was one of his proudest – and hardest-fought accomplishments. … We are grateful that he has had the opportunity to see the emergence of another generation of civil rights recognition in recent months.
A cause of death has not yet been disclosed. Memorial services will be held in Minnesota and Washington, DC, the family said.
Mondale, nicknamed “Fritz”, served under former President Jimmy Carter from January 1977 to January 1981. Together, the two endowed the Vice President with more authority: Mondale was the first Vice President to have a office in the west wing and to have weekly lunches with the president.
“What Fritz and I did together was historic,” Carter said in 2015, at an event in Washington honoring Mondale’s legacy. “It changed the basic structure of the executive branch of government to bring in the vice president as a full partner of the president.”
Mondale had previously served in the Senate and his knowledge of Capitol Hill was an asset to Carter.
“As a Georgia peanut grower, I needed a lot of help, and I thought the vice president had better give me the help I needed,” Carter said. “Fritz was an expert on what was going on in Washington… As far as I know he almost looked like another president.
Carter and Mondale lost their candidacy for re-election to Ronald Reagan in 1980.
When Mondale ran for president in 1984, he made history by choosing Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman to run for vice-president of a major party, as vice-president of a major party. Reagan defeated the Ticket in a landslide, winning all but the home state of Mondale, Minnesota, and the District of Columbia.
Mondale was born January 5, 1928 in Ceylon, Minnesota. Her father was a Methodist pastor and her mother was a music teacher. He graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1951, then served in the military for two years, reaching the rank of corporal. He married his wife, Joan Adams, in 1955 and received his law degree from the University of Minnesota the following year.
After practicing law for four years, Mondale was appointed Attorney General of Minnesota at age 32, becoming the youngest attorney general in the country.
In 1962, Mondale wrote and submitted a legal brief in a Supreme Court case that established the constitutional right of a plaintiff to counsel in felony cases. He recruited 22 other attorneys general to sign the memorandum in support of the right to legal assistance.
Mondale quickly rose through the political ranks. He was appointed to take the Senate seat of his mentor and idol Hubert Humphrey in 1964 after Humphrey was elected vice president alongside President Lyndon B. Johnson. Mondale was re-elected in 1966 and 1972.
In the Senate, Mondale has distinguished himself as an advocate of school desegregation and other civil rights issues. It was a main sponsor of the Federal Fair Housing Act, which prohibited discrimination in housing.
He also played a key role on the Special Committee to Study Government Operations Regarding Intelligence Activities – commonly known as the Church Committee – which investigated the CIA, FBI, National Security Agency and others federal intelligence activities. The committee investigated plans to assassinate foreign leaders, as well as FBI efforts to “dethrone” and “neutralize” civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. through surveillance. Mondale strongly advocated for increased surveillance of the intelligence community.
“None of us can afford to be oblivious to the grave implications of unwarranted and illegal government espionage,” Mondale said in 1973. “This poses a very real danger to the personal freedoms which are the cornerstone of our democratic system. “
After serving as vice president under Carter for one term, Mondale launched his own bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984, defeating former Colorado Senator Gary Hart and Reverend Jesse Jackson, among others.
An honest remark Mondale made at the Democratic convention that year as he accepted the nomination would come back to haunt him.
“Let’s tell the truth. … Mr. Reagan will raise taxes, and so will I. He won’t tell you, I just did, ”Mondale said while explaining how he would tackle the national deficit.
Reagan and Bush were re-elected in a landslide. After losing the election, Mondale told his friends that “Reagan was promising them ‘Morning in America’, and I was promising a root canal.
Mondale then returned to practice law in Minnesota, and later served as US Ambassador to Japan and sent to Indonesia under President Bill Clinton.
In 2002, Mondale almost returned to Congress at the age of 74, enter the race after Senator Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash just 11 days before the election. Mondale narrowly lost to Republican Norm Coleman.
He went on to serve as chairman of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes American-Asian relations, and honorary Norwegian consul general in Minneapolis, due to his Norwegian heritage. In 2010, he published his memoirs, “The good fight: a life in liberal politics” with David Hage.
Mondale’s wife, Joan, died in 2014. He is survived by two of their three children: William and Theodore. Their daughter, Eleanor, died of brain cancer in 2011.
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