Jim Klobuchar, longtime columnist who chronicled Minnesota, dies at 93

He died Wednesday after a battle with Alzheimer's.

Jim Klobuchar, an Ely-born writer who spent more three decades covering the wide-ranging experiences of life in Minnesota, died Wednesday at the age of 93.

His daughter, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, announced his passing on social media, calling him "a champion of those on the outside."

"Through his writing he gave voice to the struggles and triumphs of countless Minnesotans," she wrote, later adding: "He loved our state. He loved journalism. He loved sports and adventure. And we loved him."

Jim Klobuchar was born April 9, 1928, in Ely, Minnesota, his father working long hours in the area's iron ore mines. He graduated from Ely Junior College and the University of Minnesota School of Journalism. In 1960, Sen. Klobuchar recounts in her memoir, her father was tasked with writing the Associated Press story declaring John F. Kennedy the winner of Minnesota's electoral votes.

He joined the Minneapolis Tribune in 1961, covering the nascent Vikings franchise for four years before briefly joining the competitor Pioneer Press, only to return to the other side of the river as a columnist for the Minneapolis Star just months later.

Over the next 30 years, he wrote an estimated 8,400 columns, the Star Tribune reports. While this included some international travel and brushes with high-profile stars, he became most celebrated for his work covering all aspects of life in the state of Minnesota.

"Ordinary people doing extraordinary things," Sen. Klobuchar wrote in Wednesday's announcement.

Jim Klobuchar's struggles with alcohol also occasionally made headlines. After a 1993 DWI, the Star Tribune ran an apology letter from Klobuchar on the front page, and the paper's editor ran a note acknowledging his drunken driving "endangered lives." It prompted him to get sober, Sen. Klobuchar wrote, and in 1995 he retired. 

She also discussed her experience with her father's alcohol use in 2018, during Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court confirmation hearing, and while campaigning for president shortly after.

In addition to his work at the paper, Jim Klobuchar authored 11 books, and was known as a keen adventurer and travel guide. He suffered from Alzheimer's in his final years, but according to his daughter, "was still singing songs and telling incredible stories" to others.

Jim Klobuchar will be buried at Fort Snelling Cemetery in Minneapolis. A public celebration for his life is planned, but has yet to be announced. 

In lieu of flowers, gifts in honor of his life can be directed to the University of Minnesota’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, where a scholarship will be established in his name. Donations can be made here.

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