Every Goodbye Ain't Gone

Wellstone Remembered

When I got the news I was at the Moe fundraiser over at the Wells Fargo building, and Ted Kennedy was there. Tom Borman introduced Roger, and he gave a nice talk. And then Mondale spoke and introduced Kennedy. It was a very upbeat deal. Everybody was telling stories and laughing. We were just wrapping up about 12:30 and people were leaving and heading back to work. And right about then somebody called over and gave the news to Roger Moe, and it was all downhill from there.

Mondale, Kennedy, Moe, and myself just went off into this room together. We were stunned and shocked, and then Kennedy really did a nice thing. He said, you know, we ought to go over to the Wellstone campaign headquarters and see if we can't offer a little bit of support. Kennedy was talking on the way over there, and he said, "You know, I've had my fill of those small planes." He was in a crash himself back in 1964 and he broke his back. There really wasn't much talk on the way over there.

We've really lost a lot here. There's some truth to all this talk that he was the conscience of the Senate. My wife and I were down to Washington the first part of September and we were at a reception at the capitol where we ran into Paul and Sheila, and so we went down to this dinner together. As we were walking back out, he said, "Hey, you wanna see my desk?" So we went over there to the Senate floor, and he showed us all the desks of all the different senators. His desk was all the way in the back. And the interesting thing was that they all have these little microphones there with the cords on 'em, and his cord was the longest one in the Senate so he could walk around and talk and do his thing.

I think we're going to have a short and--I hope--a pretty dignified race. I think Walter will do it. He's very conscientious about wanting to hold the seat for the Democrats. (Zellar)

 

David Foster
DIRECTOR OF THE UNITED STEELWORKERS, DISTRICT 11

I was a mill worker, a steelworker, and not a union official back when I met Paul. I worked rotating shifts in the mill and he was a wonderful friend because of what he believed. So I wrote him a hundred-dollar check for auditor back then [in 1982] and it just about knocked him off his feet that a laborer would do that. I never forgot how grateful he was. He understood how much trust people put in him and how they sacrificed in real ways for him. He knew that.

Paul and I had very similar problems in our family. Both his parents died of Parkinson's, as did my father. Paul was enormously thoughtful about how tragedies affect people. During my father's slow decline with Parkinson's he was always asking me how my father was doing and how he could lighten the load. And then he channeled that into fetal tissue research. Paul's brother suffered from schizophrenia, as did my brother. He constantly asked me how my brother's health was, and wanted to sit down with me and talk about ways families hurt by mental problems could better deal with it. It was such an easy step for him, from personal compassion to political organizing. That is such a rare mix in anybody. (Robson)

 

Michael Meuers
FORMER CHAIR, BELTRAMI COUNTY DFL

We saw quite a bit of him up here. He spent three nights at my house. I live on the Mississippi River and he liked to sit on the deck and watch the river go by. He seemed to really enjoy that.

I first met him in 1989. When he first ran for the Senate, my daughter was 10 years old. For some reason, she really took a liking to him. One night, just after Halloween, he was going to come over to dinner after a rally, and she was really excited. Anyway, he arrived late, like politicians often do, and my daughter was very disappointed. When he finally arrived, he wrote her a note. It said, "Dear Erin, Let's win and then let's do lunch!" After he was elected, she reminded him of the note, and sure enough the next time he came to Bemidji, he kept his promise to her and took us all out to lunch.

The last time he was here, I drove him to the airport. He told me he didn't like flying at all. He was nervous about that. But in his politics, he was fearless. And he didn't get the big head that so often comes along with successful politicians. It's just sad. The chances of getting a good populist in the United States Senate are slim. I don't know if it will ever happen again. (Mosedale)

 

John Marty
DFL STATE SENATOR, ROSEVILLE (DISTRICT 54)

When he first ran for state auditor in 1982, there he was talking about all sorts of things with his fiery rhetoric, screaming and jumping. Just carrying on about things that didn't have a whole lot to do with the auditor's office, but everything to do with Paul Wellstone.

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