Former Minnesota Governor and U.S. Senator Wendell Anderson has died at the age of 83.
A statement from the office of Governor Mark Dayton announced Anderson passed away Sunday morning surrounded by family and friends. Flags at state buildings will be lowered to half-staff in his honor.
A statement from his family reads:
"Wendell Anderson was many things: A kid from East St. Paul. A Gopher. An Olympian. An elected public servant of the highest order. But above all else he was a Minnesotan. His love for the state and its citizens was second only to his love for his family."
Survived by three children and five grandchildren, Anderson started his political career as a state legislator, getting elected at the age of just 26 years old and rose to Governor just 11 years later, becoming one of the youngest in Minnesota history.
Born in St. Paul, he graduated from Johnson High School and went on to attend the University of Minnesota, where he played collegiate hockey from 1951-54 and earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic Hockey team, winning silver at the 1956 Winter Olympics in Italy.
He enlisted in the U.S. Army as a Second Lieutenant in 1955 and served through 1957. In 1958 while in law school, Anderson was elected to the Minnesota House, and was re-elected in 1960 before being elected to serve in the Senate in 1962 and 1966.
He chaired Hubert H. Humphrey's 1968 Presidential Campaign in Minnesota and then in 1970 ran for Governor, serving from 1971-76 during which time he accomplished the "Minnesota Miracle of 1971" – a bipartisan agreement to reform the state's public schools and local governments.
“Governor Anderson was one of Minnesota's greatest governors," Gov. Mark Dayton said. "His transformational ‘Minnesota Miracle’ – which he achieved through one of the most momentous bipartisan agreements in our state’s history – has dramatically improved the quality of our state's public education."
After being Governor, in 1976 Anderson took over Vice President Walter Mondale's seat in the U.S. Senate, serving through 1978 before concluding his political career.
After this, he went on to practice law, was involved in business ventures, served as a political commentator and was on the University of Minnesota's Board of Regents from 1985-1997.
He was married to Mary Christine McKee of Bemidji in 1963. Together, they raised three children: Amy, Elizabeth, and Brett.