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Continued: Obituaries: State Rep. Willard Munger

  • Article by: LARRY OAKES and TERRY FIEDLER , Star Tribune
  • Last update: July 11, 1999 - 11:00 PM

"My gosh," Jensen said earlier this year. "Willard went from an era when we thought groundwater was impervious to an era when we understand how vulnerable it is. From an era of open burning and no emissions standards to an era of reduction strategies."

"I used to be a kook environmentalist," Munger said in 1989. "Now, suddenly, I'm a respectable kook."

Saturday brain trust  

When he wasn't debating issues at the Capitol, Munger exchanged ideas with friends who gathered Saturday mornings at the Willard Motel coffee shop.

"The guy's got a mind that never stops," Alden Lind, a well-known conservationist who was a regular, said this year.

"He liked an audience to bounce ideas off of. He would cook breakfast for us and never take any money for it. Often, it was educational. [Prof. George] Rip Rapp from UMD would come out and talk about chemistry or his archaeological digs."

Those who knew him best said that love for learning and doing was Munger's fountain of youth, a well of strength that enabled him to play a major role in shaping and redefining Minnesota's values for almost 50 years.

"Willard has left a mark," Prof. Grau said. "He's left the place much better than how he found it."

Munger is survived by a son, Willard Jr., a daughter Patricia Lehr, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Our Savior's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Duluth. Services will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the church.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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