Walter and Joan Mondale.jpg

Former Vice President Walter Mondale smiles with his wife, Joan, during the Democratic National Convention July 26, 2004, at the FleetCenter in Boston. Mondale, a liberal icon who lost the presidential election in 1984, died Monday, April 19, 2021. He was 93. Joan Mondale spoke at Eastern Oregon University in 1992.

LA GRANDE — Former Vice President Walter Mondale, who died Monday, April 19, at age 93, never made an appearance in La Grande, but his wife, Joan, did.

The former Second Lady spoke at Eastern Oregon University on Oct. 10, 1992, at a Oregon Art Education Conference.

Mondale told an audience in Loso Hall she believed art should be intertwined with education and the idea that it is a “frill” rather than “essential stuff” was dangerous, according to an article in the Oct 11, 1992, edition of The Observer.

“If a nation believes that art is unimportant it becomes a nation that produces unimportant art,” Mondale said.

Such nations rarely achieve greatness, she added.

“Art teaches us about excellence and creativity,” Mondale said. “It teaches us to get the best from ourselves.”

Mondale, who was a potter, said art gives people a unique sense of their own identity and individuality that can never be lost. She quoted a drama teacher who said, “You own your own imagination. No one else has one exactly like yours.”

La Grande was one of many places where Mondale, who was born in Eugene and grew up in Pennsylvania, spoke on behalf of art.

Mondale worked so hard to generate public and private support of the arts that she became affectionately known as “Joan of Art” according to an obituary published in the Feb. 5, 2014, Minneapolis StarTribune.

Joan Mondale, who died in 2014 at age 83, spoke in La Grande a little more than a decade after her husband finished serving as vice president under President Jimmy Carter from 1977-81. Walter Mondale was the Democratic nominee for president in 1984 but lost in the general election to incumbent President Ronald Reagan.

General assignment reporter

Beats include the communities of North Powder, Imbler, Island City and Union, education, Union County veterans programs and local history. Dick joined The Observer in 1983, first working as a sports and outdoors reporter.

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