Walter Frederick "Fritz" Mondale, former vice president of the United States under then-President Jimmy Carter, has died, according his family. He was 93.
Mondale died Monday at his home in Minneapolis, Minn., surrounded by his immediate family, his family said in a statement, without specifying a cause.
His family remarked that while Mondale was the Democratic nominee in the 1984 presidential election, which he lost to then-Republican candidate Ronald Reagan, his legacy extends much further than that, as he served as Minnesota's attorney general, a senator for his home state, the U.S. ambassador to Japan and vice president under Carter from 1977 to 1981 -- which his family said was "his greatest honor and privilege."
"During our administration, Fritz used his political skill and personal integrity to transform the vice presidency into a dynamic, policy-driving force that had never been seen before and still exists today," he said. "He was an invaluable partner and an able servant of the people of Minnesota, the United States and the world."
President Joe Biden, who called Mondale "a dear friend and mentor," said in a statement that he spoke with the former vice president over the weekend to reflect "on the years of friendship we shared."
Mondale was one of the first people to greet Biden when he arrived in the Senate in 1973, the president said, and he showed the then-junior senator "what was possible."
"He may have been modest and unassuming in manner, but he was unwavering in his pursuit of progress," Biden said. "There have been few senators before, or since, who commanded such universal respect."
The Fair Housing Act of 1968 to prevent racial discrimination in housing, Title IX to provide more opportunities for women and laws to protect the environment were some of Mondale's accomplishments Biden highlighted.
Former President Barack Obama also said Monday that Mondale was a champion of progressive causes and changed the role of what it meant to be vice president as well as and who could be vice president as he selected Geraldine Ferraro to be his running mate, making her the first woman to campaign for the job.
"Michelle and I send prayers to his family," Obama said.
Walter Mondale championed progressive causes and changed the role of VP—so leaders like @JoeBiden could be the last ones in the room when decisions were made. In selecting Geraldine Ferraro, he also paved the way for @VP to make history. Michelle and I send prayers to his family.— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) April 20, 2021
Ken Martin, chairman of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, published a note from Mondale that was sent to his staff after his death, in which he said he was eager to join his wife, Joan Mondale, who died in 2014, and their daughter, Eleanor Mondale, who died in 2011.
"Never has a public servant had a better group of people working at their side!" he said. "Together we have accomplished so much and I know you will keep up the good fight. Joe in the White House certainly helps. I always knew it would be okay if I arrived some place and was greeted by one of you!"
Born on Jan. 5, 1928, in Ceylon, Minn., to a Methodist minister and a part-time piano teacher, both Norwegian immigrants, Mondale became active in politics while practicing law in the late 1950s.
Mondale, who served in the Korean War, graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1956 and involved himself in Democratic politics while working under Hubert Humphrey.
At the age of 32 in 1960, Mondale was appointed attorney general of Minnesota only to be selected a few years later to fill the Senate seat left vacant by Humphrey who was elected the 38th vice president under President Lyndon B. Johnson.
It was during his 12 years in the Senate that he played in a key role in passing the Fair Housing Act, which his family said was "one of his proudest -- and hardest fought --achievements."
Vice President Walter Mondale led an extraordinary life of service—in uniform during the Korean War, as a Senator, and as Vice President. I was able to speak with him just a few days ago and thank him for his service. I'll miss him dearly, and my heart is with his family today.— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) April 20, 2021
In 1976, he was elected vice president during which he is credited with transforming the role into a full partnership with the president.
Following his election loss to President Reagan and Vice President George H. W. Bush in 1984, Mondale returned to practicing law until in 1993 then-President Bill Clinton asked him to serve as the U.S. ambassador to Japan, a role he held until 1996, and then as the president's special envoy to Indonesia in 1998.
Vice President Kamala Harris praised Mondale for leading an "extraordinary life of service" for his country, stating late Monday that she spoke with him a few days ago to thank him for doing so.
"I'll miss him dearly and my heart is with his family," she said.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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