Notable Norwegians: Walter Mondale

Photo: Minn. National Guard
Walter Mondale in 2014.

David Moe

Walter F. Mondale was born in Ceylon, Minnesota, on January 5, 1928, the son of a Methodist minister. He attended Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and graduated with a B.A. Degree from the University of Minnesota in 1951, then serving two years at Fort Knox, Kentucky, in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He married Joan Adams in 1955, received his law degree from the University of Minnesota in 1956, and began his law practice in Minneapolis.

While in college, Mondale had campaigned for Hubert Humphrey and had worked for the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor party and managed the re-election campaign of Governor Orville Freeman, who in 1960 appointed Mondale state attorney general. When Hubert Humphrey was elected Vice President in 1964, Gov. Karl Rolvaag appointed Mondale to Humphrey’s U.S. Senate seat, which he was re-elected to twice. When Gov. Jimmy Carter of Georgia won the Democratic nomination for president in 1976, he chose Walter Mondale as his running mate.

Inaugurated as Vice President on January 20, 1977, Mondale became an adviser to the president and spokesman for Carter on Capitol Hill, supporting legislation on labor law reform, an increase in the minimum wage, and tighter control on intelligence operations. He was also an adviser to Carter on foreign affairs and made diplomatic visits to countries all over the world. Carter and Mondale were re-nominated at the 1980 Democratic National Convention, but defeated in the November election by Republicans Ronald Reagan and George Bush.

Out of office in 1981, Mondale resumed his law practice and also established a political action committee to raise money for the Democratic Party. He won the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 but was defeated by the re-election of Ronald Reagan. After the election, Mondale once again returned to his law practice in Minneapolis. With the election of Bill Clinton in 1992, Mondale was named Ambassador to China.

In 2007, Walter Mondale was named Honorary Consul-General of Norway, representing the Norwegian state in Minnesota. He served in that position for three years.

This article originally appeared in the June 16, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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