Joan Mondale: Kind and savvy activist, devoted wife,mother and friend

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Joan Mondale's funeral at Westminister Presbyterian Church Saturday was a stream of personal remembrances that touched on her roles as mother, wife, sister, diplomat, artist, activist and friend. One friend said Mondale's graciousness, intelligence and wit shone through everything she did.

The Associated Press reports that Vice President Joe Biden remembered Joan Mondale as a friend who comforted him after his wife and daughter died in a car accident in 1972. He had just arrived in the U.S. Senate, where he was welcomed by Joan and Walter Mondale.

"You weren't just saying the right things. You embraced me. You included me. You brought me in," he said.

He also remembered the couple's "truly loving marriage" of 61 years. Biden praised not only Joan Mondale's commitment to the arts, but also her activism.

"She pushed just as hard for equal pay for women when no one talked about it. ... She was incredibly supportive of the first woman nominee that you first put on the ticket, Fritz," Biden said, looking at Walter Mondale. "Joan was as vocal and as present and as consistent on those aspects of people's lives ... as she seemed to be about art."

Former President Jimmy Carter, who recruited Walter Mondale to be his vice president, said he found 22 entries in his personal diary about Joan's commitment to the arts.

"Until I met Joan Mondale, I thought Rosalynn was the most persistent woman on earth," Carter said.

"I tried to find a phrase to describe Joan, and I found this one: 'Live your life as though it was a work of art,'" Carter said.

One theme of the service was the Mondales' connection to their alma-mater, Macalester College, according to KSTP. Macalester President Brian Rosenberg said that's where Mondale earned the nickname "Joan of Art."

"She really believed that art should be part of everyday life for every person, that it enriched life, that it made you more wise, more empathetic," Rosenberg said. "It wasn't just the fact that she was well known. It's the way she was well known I think that made us so proud of her."

The Macalester College Pipe Band played the recessional.

Mondale was 83 when she died Monday after a long illness. She is survived by her husband and two sons.

Joan Mondale's husband and two sons were with her when she died, along with other family members, a family spokesman said.

Mondale, an Oregon native and Macalester College graduate, met her husband, also a Macalester alumnus, on a blind date, and they married in 1955. She has been widely hailed for being a champion of the arts, and affectionately known by the nickname “Joan of Art.”

Mondale has also been remembered as a steadfast partner in her husband’s political career, and the loving mother of three children: Ted, William and a daughter, Eleanor, who died in 2011 after a battle with brain cancer.

Among those offering condolences to the Mondale family were President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, the Associated Press reported. Obama praised Mondale for her contributions to arts and global understanding.

Former President Bill Clinton said Mondale was as “graceful in her role as our nation’s Second Lady as she was unwavering in her support of art and artists.”

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