President Joe Biden
At his core, Fritz embraced everybody, with the belief that everyone's entitled to be treated with dignity. Everybody. Dignity. Not just the right to vote — dignity.
He was loved by the American people because he reflected the goodness of the American people — especially the people of Minnesota.
Every senator wears on his or her sleeve the state they serve. But the love Fritz had for the people of Minnesota ran deeper than that. He loved you all, and you loved him back, and it's obvious because Fritz reflected the very best qualities of this state: the warmth and optimism that you reflect.
At every turn, Fritz reflected the light of this nation. Who we are, and what we can be.
President Barack Obama (letter)
I'm honored to pay tribute to Fritz, a man who dedicated his life to making government work for the American people.
In championing causes like fair housing and women's rights, he helped put the promise of America within reach for more people. And he changed the role of vice president, so President Biden could be the last in the room for decisions during my administration — something I will always be grateful for.
Fritz's lifetime of service was an incredible gift to our country. As we reflect on his legacy, may we all strive to embody his integrity, his humility, and his unwavering drive to do right by Minnesotans and people everywhere.
President Bill Clinton (letter)
I so wish I could be with all of you at the University of Minnesota to remember the extraordinary life of my friend Vice President Walter Mondale.
Throughout his long life, Fritz never stopped believing in the power of public service to make a difference in people's lives. As Minnesota Attorney General, Senator, Vice President, Democratic nominee for President, Ambassador, and private citizen, he put his deep policy knowledge, tireless work ethic, and uncommon decency and kindness to work — to expand civil rights and defend civil liberties; create more educational and economic opportunities for all Americans; and fulfill our Founders' charge to form a more perfect union. And he did it all, in sunshine and storms, with humility, grace, and a wonderful sense of humor.
I will always be grateful for the more than 40 years of friendship he gave Hillary and me, and his fine service as both Ambassador to Japan and Special Envoy to Indonesia when I was President. Although those were the last public offices he held, his public service continued for another two decades, always fighting for the causes he loved and the country he believed in, and having a good time doing it.
As you gather to celebrate Fritz's remarkable life, I'm thinking of his joyful spiritual reunion with Joan and Eleanor, and his characteristic conviction that surely there is something he can do to make the universe better. My heart goes out to Ted, William, his entire family, and all the people who were blessed by his friendship, inspired by his service, and enriched by his example.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar
It was not easy for Walter Mondale to run against Ronald Reagan, knowing that most people were predicting that Reagan would win.
It was not easy for Walter Mondale to come out of retirement and run for the Senate after we lost Paul Wellstone.
It was not easy for Walter Mondale to continue his work while caring for his beloved wife, Joan, and their daughter, Eleanor, through heartbreaking illnesses.
None of it was easy. But when saddled with enormous setbacks, Fritz didn't stand down; he stood up. Fritz didn't crawl under his desk or hide from public view; he simply found a different way to serve.
He went from being driven around with tons of Secret Service and meeting with world leaders and negotiating international treaties to going into Lunds, grocery shopping on his own and happily ending his visit with a long, engaged talk about Mideast peace with the high school kid at the checkout counter. That happened.
You see, being humble meant that it was much easier to be resilient.
Being grounded meant that no matter how high he had risen, there was always a place to come home.
That place was here. That place was us.
U.S. Sen. Tina Smith
This week, I have been reading a lot of tributes to Mr. Mondale's life and his legacy.
President Carter wrote: "His ideas and energy changed the office he held forever, and his intelligence, his experience and humor and determination made me better at mine."
President Clinton observed that "throughout his long life, Fritz never stopped believing in the power of public service to make a difference in people's lives."
And President Obama described Mondale's lifetime of service as, and I quote, "an incredible gift to his nation," adding, "in championing causes like fair housing and women's rights, he helped put the promise of America within the reach of more people."
As I've been reading all these notes, I've been reading some sent by people who worked for Walter Mondale when he ran for president and never really left his orbit. One is from a former staffer, Gina Glantz, who told the story of how, when her mom got sick, and the Mayo Clinic seemed like really the only option for treatment, she worked up the nerve to ask Mr. Mondale for help. Well, Vice President Mondale called a retired nurse friend, and within weeks, Gina's mother was at the Mayo, with the person behind the check-in desk at Mayo saying, "And how do you know our Fritz?"
So many Americans were called to action by that 1984 campaign, a campaign rooted in truth and decency and hope. And four decades later, many of them, many of you, are still involved in politics, still working to uphold the values that defined Walter Mondale's remarkable life — and even though many of us have yet to find a boss who, really, we had such a personal connection to.
Gov. Tim Walz
Walter Mondale changed every person he came in contact with. He changed this state, he changed this nation and he changed this world, all for the better.
Fritz was a national figure, but at heart — and everyone in this room knows — he was always just a boy from southern Minnesota. He embodied a sense of joy. He lived his life every single day with that joy at the forefront.
At 91, he was still fishing for walleye. Unlike me, he was catching them.
Everyone who met Fritz Mondale considered him a friend. Few people I've ever met did you feel were more present when you were with them. There was no place he needed to be. There was no-one more important than that moment. And every person I've ever talked to felt that.
Arne Carlson, former Minnesota governor (letter)
Today, we celebrate the life of Minnesota's finest; Walter Mondale. No doubt there will be remembrances of his leadership on a host of issues ranging from human rights to world peace. But the highest tribute is to honor his values and give them immortality.
First and foremost has been his commitment to fairness. He saw it in the light of endlessly pursuing the elimination of all barriers to achievement for all people. His vision for our democracy was an even playing field and, I suspect, he would define the American Dream in that same context.
That enveloping philosophy led him to pursue policies that enhanced the quality of life for all people ranging from universal access to quality and affordable health care to ending violence whether by war or the endless slaughter of innocent victims of gun violence.
And he understood the necessity of serving as stewards of the land we inherited. His work to save the BWCA and the St. Croix will always remain memorable. But, he also stayed current and challenged us to be ever vigilant of the monied interests who desire to convert nature's bounty to private gain. It was this that led him to publicly oppose sulfide mining which threatens our valuable waters.
Always involved, always supportive of full public debate, and always decent. But, his sense of decency was never be seen as a sign of weakness, No, Walter Mondale was never guided by the odds or the polls, but rather the rightness of the cause.
So today, we pay tribute to a true leader and protector of the public good. And, hopefully, we will all make his values our values. We could do no better.
Rev. Tim Hart-Andersen, Westminster Presbyterian Church
Fritz Mondale was born into a home steeped in biblical wisdom. Theodore, his Methodist pastor father, would have been trained for the ministry in the time when the social gospel was ascendant. The values of doing good and making the world a better place for all were taught in the Mondale household and in Sunday school by Fritz's mother, Claribel, who also played the piano at church.
"I believe I attended more church services," Fritz once said, "Sang in more weddings and funerals, attended more Sunday schools, than any public official in the history of southern Minnesota."
His family drew from the well of Methodist teaching that linked passion, discipline, intellect and concern for "the least of these." It was a potent combination of a heart aflame with rigorous commitment to serve the most vulnerable in society. That theological context formed young Fritz, and it would define his character all his life.
"My faith and my family have been my greatest blessings in my life," he said in a speech not long ago. "I was taught that ours was a faith of decency and social justice, based on the great commandment to love your God and to love your neighbor as yourself."
Like many of us, Fritz did not wear his faith on his sleeve. In fact, he was suspicious of anyone who did. His was a Beatitudes-based faith, drawing on the simple teaching of Jesus: Blessed are those who are meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who are poor, for theirs is the kingdom of God. Blessed are those who make peace, for they will be called children of God.
Josie Johnson, "First Lady of Minnesota Civil Rights"
I never will forget how excited I was at the thought of Fritz Mondale running for president. I never will forget how honored I felt.
This humble man, who always welcomed other points of view and encouraged everyone in his sphere to be open, to be inclusive, to be just, and the thought of him running for president of the United States of America, was just such a wonderful, unbelievable thought that many of us had, because he was such a humble person.
And for him to understand that who he was and what he represented was what we needed in our society made us all want to be engaged in everything we could be engaged in and get that message out to the public and to the community.
Joan Gabel, University of Minnesota president
On behalf of a grateful university, we recognize with appreciation the countless and inspiring ways Vice President Mondale gave back to his alma mater and made us all better — as a teacher and leader, as a namesake and benefactor to our law school and Humphrey School fellowship program and as a friend and mentor to students and colleagues alike.
The University of Minnesota is fortunate to have held such a special place in his universe — and across his exemplary life of dedication and service to Minnesota and the world, as vice president, U.S. senator, presidential candidate, U.S. ambassador to Japan and Minnesota's attorney general.
It is therefore left to us to step into his indelible footprints — here at his alma mater, in the hearts of our university family and throughout the world.
So, let the path he forged guide us in his ever-optimistic way, and let it heal us, so we can ensure, in his honor, that our best days still lie ahead.
Larry Jacobs, Walter F. and Joan Mondale Chair for Political Studies at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs
For 16 years, Walter Mondale and I worked together on a number of projects. But Walter Mondale brought his greatest passion to teaching. We taught thousands of students here at the University of Minnesota: undergraduates, graduates, folks who were auditing and wanted to take the class. He was a breath of fresh air; he was rigorous and he was demanding. I want to talk a little bit about some of those features.
Preparation and seriousness are Mondale traits, particularly Professor Mondale. During one group presentation, Mr. Mondale pointed to a student who was leaning against the chalkboard, put up his hands to stop the group presentation and said, "Stand up. Convince us that you actually believe what you're saying."
The student stood up, and all of us thought, "Oh my God. Always stand up straight."
I was not immune from the scrutiny. During one class, when I was carefully, I thought, relating the readings for the class and the topic at hand, Mr. Mondale raised his hand. He asked a question that probably more of my colleagues should be asked now and again, though we'd prefer it not be asked by a former vice president of the United States. Mr. Mondale asked, "What are you talking about?"