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Law School Community Mourns the Death of Joan Mondale

FEBRUARY 4, 2014—Joan Adams Mondale, wife of former vice president Walter F. Mondale (’56) and one of the nation's foremost supporters of the arts, passed away yesterday at the age of 83 after a brief stay in hospice care. Mr. Mondale, their sons Ted and William (’90), and other family members were with her when she died.

"Joan Mondale will be greatly missed as an artist, a champion of the arts, and a beloved member of the community," said Dean David Wippman. Professor Joan Howland, who also serves as associate dean for information and technology, said, "She was known for her support of the arts, but she was also a great supporter of the law library here at the Law School. Our condolences go out to the vice president. She will be missed by many."

Though she often referred to herself as a "traditional political wife," her passionate advocacy of art and artists, along with her own avocation as a potter, earned Joan Mondale the nickname Joan of Art—a moniker she clearly relished. "She is generous and straightforward," the painter Frank Stella once said of her. "She relates well to artists and makes everybody feel good. She has the ability to be interested wherever she is, which is no small gift. Most of us think: If it is in Des Moines, it can't be any good. She's different."

"Joan Mondale's name never appeared on a ballot," said the Minneapolis Star Tribune in an editorial published today. "But she was indeed a public servant, participating with her husband in myriad ways as he served as Minnesota's attorney general and U.S. senator and the nation's vice president and ambassador to Japan."

Services are scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 8, at Westminster Presbyterian Church in downtown Minneapolis. Westminster Presbyterian Church will host a Service of Thanksgiving for the Life of Mondale at 12:30 p.m. in its sanctuary. A reception in the lobby of Orchestra Hall across the street from the downtown church will immediately follow the service.


Walter and Joan Mondale

Walter and Joan Mondale

"This is my favorite picture of Fritz and me, walking in the garden of the ambassador's residence in Tokyo. My suit was made from a man's kimono I bought at a shrine sale."
- From Letters From Japan, 1997, by Joan Mondale


More articles on the death of Joan Mondale:
MPR News
New York Times
Pioneer Press
Star Tribune
Star Tribune editorial