Walter “Fritz” Mondale, who served as vice president under then-President Jimmy Carter before waging his own unsuccessful White House bid in 1984, has died, according to family spokesperson Kathy Tunheim. He was 93.
Mondale died at home in downtown Minneapolis, Tunheim said, surrounded by family.
Born to a Methodist minister and music teacher in southern Minnesota in 1928, the former Democratic vice president was a steadfast supporter of social justice. By the time he graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School, he was deeply involved in the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party — Minnesota’s wing of the Democratic Party.
He served as the state’s attorney general starting in 1960 and later was named to the US Senate to fill the seat left vacant by Hubert Humphrey, who was elected Lyndon Johnson’s vice president. Mondale represented Minnesota in the Senate from 1964 until 1976, when he signed on as Carter’s running mate.
He served as Carter’s No. 2 between 1977 and 1981, but his time as vice president came to an end when Ronald Reagan and his running mate, George H. W. Bush, defeated Carter and Mondale in 1980 — a loss that Democrats wouldn’t recover from until 1992, when Bill Clinton helped the party win back control of the White House.
Still, Mondale would win the Democratic presidential nomination himself in 1984, and make history by naming a woman, US Rep. Geraldine A. Ferraro of New York, as his running mate before ultimately falling short to Reagan.
Mondale later served as both the US ambassador to Japan and the envoy to Indonesia under Clinton.
His last race was in 2002, when he served as Minnesota’s DFL Senate candidate, filling the ballot position of the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, who had died shortly before the election in October of that year. Mondale was defeated in the race by Republican Norm Coleman.
“Power has now peacefully changed hands and we are so blessed to be Americans when that happens,” he said in 2002 after his election loss. “We kept the faith, we stayed the course, we fought the good fight, and every one of us should feel good about that.”
Following the loss, he returned to practicing law and teaching at the University of Minnesota.
Mondale had faced a few significant health issues in recent years. In 2014, he underwent a successful heart surgery in his home state of Minnesota, and the following year, he was admitted to the hospital with influenza.
He’s preceded in death by his wife, Joan Mondale, who died in 2014.