“I want to be a semi-elegant, outrageous old lady,” Arvonne Fraser said when she turned 60 in 1985. But she didn’t want to rest. So much more to do!

Her early years were spent on a farm around Lamberton, Minn., where she had four siblings. She went off to the University of Minnesota, and soon was involved in politics, joining Hubert H. Humphrey’s 1948 U.S. Senate campaign.

From there, the world! Her accomplishments could fill the page: state DFL chair, a founder of the National Women’s Political Caucus, senior fellow at the U’s Humphrey Institute, attendee to United Nations “Decade for Women” conferences, Agency for International Development coordinator and founder of the International Women’s Rights Watch. To name a few.

A 1972 Minneapolis Tribune story said her DFL positions included “perennial chairmanship of the tedious constitution committee.”

Well, if anyone could make a tedious constitution a bit more lively, it was her.

Oh: she was her husband’s campaign manager, too. Fellow named Don — in Congress for 20 years, had a stint as mayor for a city called “Minneapolis.”

And she had six kids. It sounds like a have-it-all story, but in 1985 she advised younger women to relax, have kids if they wished, and do what they wanted to do after the children were on their own. Don’t try to accomplish everything by the time you’re 40.

In 1972, she’d struck a slightly different tone: “Women are being urged to have fewer and fewer children,” she told the Tribune, “yet we are living longer. What will women do with all those extra years?”

Her example had the answer: get involved.

When she made her 60th birthday plans to be outrageous, she said she intended to live another thirty years.

That she did, and change.

James Lileks