Albert J. Hofstede, who as Minneapolis’ DFL mayor for two terms in the turbulent 1970s fought to expand and improve the city’s housing stock, died of a respiratory illness Saturday at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, his family said. He was 75.
“He cared so deeply about the city of Minneapolis and did so much for it,” said his brother, Tony Hofstede of Minneapolis. “In so many ways, he made it a better place.”
Mayor Betsy Hodges said Hofstede “stood by his convictions and fought hard for Minneapolis every day. He was kind, and a friend to me.”
City Council President Barbara Johnson remembered him as “the epitome of a public servant, and a dear, close friend,” adding, “His passing is a great loss for our city.”
Hofstede was born in Minneapolis and graduated from the then-College of St. Thomas in St. Paul in 1964 with a degree in biology and chemistry. Early in his career, he was prominently and proudly associated with northeast Minneapolis, an area of immigrants and blue-collar pride.
After serving on the Minneapolis City Council from 1968 to 1970, he was appointed in 1971 by then-Gov. Wendell Anderson as the second chairman of the Metropolitan Council from 1971 to 1973.
Hofstede beat Independent Charlie Stenvig in a lively election to become the city’s 41st — and youngest, at age 34 — mayor in 1973 and served from January 1974 to December 1975.
He was then defeated by Stenvig, but later won a second term that ran from January 1978 to December 1979. He opted not to run again, and was succeeded as mayor by Don Fraser.
Housing, especially affordable housing for lower-income residents, was Hofstede’s main passion. “When he was mayor, you’d look at the skyline and see cranes everywhere, kind of like now,” his brother said.
“He worked on so many initiatives that were meant to build up the city and make it better,” his brother said.
His motivations were both political and spiritual. As the city’s first Roman Catholic mayor, Hofstede was deeply committed to his faith and proud of having helped found Catholic Eldercare, a nursing home and assisted-living complex in northeast Minneapolis, and of serving on the boards of Catholic Charities and the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, his brother said.
In a 2004 online article from St. Thomas, Hofstede said he viewed his public service not as a job but as “a commitment you make.” He said he was able to move out of the public spotlight because “there’s a time to come and a time to go. You have to recognize when it’s time to let someone else take the reins.”
Hofstede, who most recently lived in Blaine after being a Minneapolis resident for most of his life, had been healthy until recently and still worked at North State Advisors, a lobbying and consulting firm he started in 1981, his brother said.
“His legacy won’t be confined to any one thing,” his brother said. “The work he did was so immense. He cared so deeply about so much, and loved his family so much.”
His outgoing, loving personality and his “interest in making a difference” stood out both in his political and personal life, Tony said.
In addition to his brother Tony, he is survived by his wife of 28 years, Emma; two children, Emily Koski of Minneapolis and Albert Hofstede Jr. of Medina; another brother, the Rev. John Hofstede of St. Paul; two sisters, Carol Kostick and Mary Marquez, and five grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Barbara. Funeral arrangements are pending.