Mondale, Joan Adams. Potter, advocate for the arts, Second Lady of the United States, and the beloved heart of her family, died on Monday, February 3, 2014, at age 83. She was born on August 8, 1930, in Eugene, Oregon, to the Reverend John Maxwell Adams and Eleanor Jane Hall Adams. When she was five years old, she and her family moved to Wallingford, Pennsylvania, where she and her sisters attended the first integrated Quaker school in the state. In her senior year, her family moved to St. Paul, MN, where her father served as the first chaplain of Macalester College. She completed her secondary education at Summit School and attended Macalester College where she continued her long-time interest in pottery and crafts, participated in swimming, and competed on the diving team. After studying religious architecture for a semester in France, she graduated from Macalester College in 1952 with a major in history and minors in art and French. After graduation, she worked as a slide librarian at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and as an assistant in education at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, offering guided tours and lectures. In 1955, she met Walter Mondale, a law student and Macalester alumnus. They were engaged 53 days after their first date and were married by her father in the Macalester College Chapel on December 27, 1955. They had three children: Theodore Adams, Eleanor Jane, and William Hall. Joan participated fully in political life with her husband, always holding to her vow that politics would never take a toll on the family. While Walter served as Attorney General of Minnesota, she was elected chairwoman of the Seventh Ward of the Democratic Farmer-Labor party in Minneapolis. In 1964, when her husband was appointed to complete Vice President Hubert Humphrey's term in the U.S. Senate, the family moved to Washington, D.C. Here she continued to pursue her love of the arts, taking classes with a master potter, providing guided tours at the National Gallery of Art, and publishing her first book, ‘Politics in Art’. After Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale were elected President and Vice President of the United States in 1976, she turned the vice presidential residence on Massachusetts Avenue into a showplace for American art. She personally guided visitors through exhibits of regional and contemporary art, which had been arranged with the help of Martin Friedman, director of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and with loans from museums around the country. Along with her advocacy for the arts, she remained an avid political campaigner and dedicated public servant, working tirelessly to support her husband in his role as vice president. In 1977, President Carter appointed her honorary chair of the Federal Council on Arts and Humanities. She traveled throughout the country, encouraging public and private support for the arts. She succeeded in establishing a national policy where 1% of public building space would be set aside for artwork, and she helped to change policy in the National Park Service to encourage work by local artists in national parks. Over the years, her attention to public and private support for the arts earned her the affectionate nickname "Joan of Art." When her husband was named Ambassador to Japan in 1993, Joan worked with the State Department's Art-in-Embassies program to bring American art from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles to display in the embassy, arranging for bilingual volunteer guides to provide tours. She visited Japanese artists and artisans in their studios and won hearts by learning Japanese styles of pottery and shaping local clay on the wheel. She was welcomed at kilns from Mashiko to Seto to Okinawa, and many Japanese were surprised and delighted to receive her handmade pots as gifts. Her book, ‘Letters from Japan’, tells of her experiences there. When she returned to Minnesota, she continued working in Japanese-style at the Stillwater studio of her long-time mentor, Warren MacKenzie. She served on the boards of the Minnesota Orchestra, the Walker Art Center, the Woman's National De- mocratic Club, the John Eaton Public School PTA and her neighborhood food co-op in Washington, D.C., the National Portrait Gallery, the Associated Council of the Arts, Macalester College, the U.S. Postal Service Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee, the Northern Clay Center, Reading Is Fundamental, and the Hiawatha Light Rail Public Art and Design Committee. She was awarded an honorary degree from Macalester College and the Barnard College Medal of Distinction, as well as the Public Art Network Award and a Distinguished Service to the Arts award from the Cleveland Arts Prize. The Textile Center in Minneapolis has an endowed fiber arts gallery named for her, and Dutch tulip breeder J.F. van der Berg named a variety of the Triumph Tulip after her. Joan Mondale bulbs were planted at the vice president's residence in 1980. She was preceded in death by her parents and by her beloved daughter Eleanor Jane. She is survived by her loving husband of 58 years, Walter; her sons, Ted and William; son-in-law, Chan Poling; sisters, Jan Canby (Bill) and Joyce McGinn (Joe); and four grandchildren, Louie, Amanda, Berit, and Charlotte. She also leaves her dear English setter, Biscuit, to mourn her passing. A memorial service celebrating the life of Joan Adams Mondale will be held on Saturday, February 8, at 12:30 PM, at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Nicollet Mall and 12th Street in Minneapolis. The service will be live streamed at… Parking is available at the 11th and Marquette Municipal Ramp across from Orchestra Hall. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to the Northern Clay Center, 2424 East Franklin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55406; the Textile Center, 3000 University Avenue S.E., Minneapolis, MN 55414; or Mayo Clinic Department of Development, 200 First Street S.W., Rochester, MN 55905 (please specify either Parkinson's Disease research or Lewy Body research).

Published on February 5, 2014

Guest Book

Star Tribune reviews all guest book entries to ensure appropriate content.

Our staff does not correct grammar or spelling. FAQ