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Joan Mondale, wife of former Vice President Walter Mondale, has died

8:11 PM, Feb 3, 2014   |    comments
Joan Mondale, wife of former Vice President Walter Mondale (Photo: David Sherman, AP)
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(USA TODAY) Joan Mondale, the wife of former Vice President Walter Mondale, died Monday afternoon. She was 83 years old.

The death of Mondale, an arts patron who saw her husband rise from the U.S. Senate to become Jimmy Carter's vice president and then the Democratic Party's 1984 presidential nominee, was announced by Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis. Mondale entered hospice care on Friday.

"We are grateful for the expressions of love and support we have received. Joan was greatly loved by many. We will miss her dearly," said Walter Mondale, in the family's statement.

The former vice president, sons Ted and William, and other family members were at Joan Mondale's side at her death. Services will be held Saturday at the church, where the Mondales were longtime members.

Most students of politics will remember Walter Mondale's stinging defeat for president in 1984 by Ronald Reagan -- one of the biggest landslides in presidential history.

But the Mondales had long made their mark in official Washington, first when he represented Minnesota in the Senate from 1964 to 1976 and then later when he was vice president. During the Clinton administration, Walter Mondale served as U.S. ambassador to Japan. They have been living in Minnesota, where the former vice president resumed his law practice.

When her husband was vice president from 1977 to 1981, Joan Mondale earned the nickname "Joan of Art" for her patronage of arts and culture. She was a potter by training, studied art at Macalester College, and worked at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts after graduation.

Mondale promoted the arts vigorously during her husband's public service career. While she was second lady, Mondale showcased the works of artists such as Georgia O'Keeffe and photographer Ansel Adams at the vice president's residence.

In 1972, Mondale wrote a book about the link between politics and the arts.

"Sometimes we do not realize how important our participation in politics is. Often, we need to be reminded of our duty as citizens," she wrote. "Artists can do just that; they can look at our politicians, our institutions and our problems to help us understand them better."

Walter and Joan Mondale married in 1955. Eleanor, the couple's daughter and a former TV and radio journalist, died of brain cancer in 2011.

Contributing: Associated Press

Catalina Camia, USA TODAY

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