- Blog Post by: Lori Sturdevant
- April 22, 2012 - 4:35 PM
Jackie Stevenson was a fixture at every DFL state convention I ever covered -- and that's quite a few. That fact alone makes word of Stevenson's unexpected death in her sleep early Sunday, at age 77, hard to swallow. Can that party function without the feminist matriarch of Minnetonka dispensing advice, plotting strategy and mobilizing her feminist forces?
More's the personal point: Can I keep track of those machinations without her generous tips and revelations?
I'd known and admired Stevenson's passion for politics and feminism long before I knew her personal story. Her dad had been an editorial writer (it figured) at the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and she was drawn to politics through a doting daughter's connection with a beloved father. About her dad, she once told me, he said he hoped "he was raising children who understood the need to help the have-nots in society. ... That's been my watchword all my life."
Stevenson started volunteering in DFL political campaigns in 1952, she said. While she loved the excitement of a campaign, what hooked her was the satisfaction of helping to shape government. She wasn't a person with money or fame. But she had significant influence because she earned it, through unflagging commitment to the person-to-person work of building a political party.
For all its flaws, Minnesota's political system still promises a payoff for the citizens who believe in it and work hard to master it. Stevenson did, and if death had not sneaked up on her Sunday morning, I know she would tell me today that she would gladly do it all again.
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