It’s with great sadness that Jill and I learned of the passing of Vice President Walter Mondale, but great gratitude that we were able to call one of our nation’s most dedicated patriots and public servants a dear friend and mentor.
Jill and I had the opportunity to speak to Fritz and his family over the weekend, to reflect on the years of friendship we shared, and how much we learned from and leaned on each other.
When I arrived in the United States Senate in 1973, Walter Mondale was one of the first people to greet me. Through his work as a Senator, he showed me what was possible. He may have been modest and unassuming in manner, but he was unwavering in his pursuit of progress; instrumental in passing laws like the Fair Housing Act to prevent racial discrimination in housing, Title IX to provide more opportunities for women, and laws to protect our environment. There have been few senators, before or since, who commanded such universal respect.
When President Obama asked me to consider being his Vice President, Fritz was my first call and trusted guide. He not only took my call, he wrote me a memo. It was Walter Mondale who defined the vice presidency as a full partnership, and helped provide a model for my service.
And Joan did the same for Jill, helping her carve out a role for herself as our nation’s Second Lady.
He not only created a path for himself, he helped others do the same. Walter Mondale was the first presidential nominee of either party to select a woman as his running mate, and I know how pleased he was to be able to see Kamala Harris become Vice President.
In accepting the Democratic Party’s nomination for President, he described the values he was taught to live by: “to play by the rules; to tell the truth; to obey the law; to care for others; to love our country; to cherish our faith.”
As a Senator, an Ambassador, a Vice President, and a candidate for President, he lived and spread those values.
Our hearts go out to the Mondale family. And we take some comfort in the fact that he is with Joan and Eleanor now.