Family and friends of Joan Mondale, the wife of former U.S. Vice President Walter Mondale, will gather on Saturday for a memorial service celebrating the life of the woman known as “Joan of Art” for her decades of support for the fine arts.
Former President Jimmy Carter and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden are expected to attend the memorial service at a downtown Minneapolis church for the former second lady of the 1977-1981 Carter administration, who died on Monday at 83.
Mondale’s support for the arts ran more than six decades from her study and work in college through her promotion of arts programs and artists during and after Walter Mondale’s terms as a U.S. senator, vice president and ambassador.
Moving to Washington when Walter Mondale was appointed U.S. senator in 1964, Joan Mondale gave tours at the National Gallery of Art. She published a book, “Politics in Art,” based on her arts lectures.
Joan Mondale filled the vice president’s residence with contemporary American art during Walter Mondale’s term. She served as honorary chair of the Federal Council on Arts and Humanities for the Carter Administration, advocating for private and public arts support across the United States.
She brought American art to the embassy and immersed herself in Japanese art when he served as ambassador to Japan during the administration of President Bill Clinton. Joan Mondale incorporated Japanese styles into her pottery while visiting Japanese artists and artisans.
“When the Mondales were in Tokyo, we had two ambassadors,” Biden and his wife Jill said in a statement after her death. They called Joan Mondale a Senate spouse and second lady who was “a force of her own.”
“We will always treasure our time with her and will miss her smile, friendship and counsel,” the statement said.
Joan Mondale served on the board of the Minnesota Orchestra and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and several other boards and as a trustee at Macalester College, her alma mater and the school where her father served as chaplain.
The service will be held at Westminster Presbyterian Church where the Mondales were members. Congregants will be led afterward by bagpipers and drummers from Macalester College to a reception at Orchestra Hall nearby.
The Mondales were married 58 years, meeting and marrying in 1955. They had three children: Eleanor, Ted and William. Eleanor Mondale died in 2011 from brain cancer.
(Reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)