Paul and Sheila
Five years ago today our state lost two great people. Paul and Sheila Wellstone were a sterling example of the Minnesota spirit and character. I admired them so much for their focus on the forgotten. Paul got his start in public service as a community organizer working against poverty in Southern Minnesota (bringing attention to an issue that is easy to ignore here. Southern Minnesota is home to Rochester (think Mayo clinic) and Northfield (“cows, colleges and contentment”) and it would be easy to assume that poverty was not a big issue in that region.
I won’t go into too much more about Paul and Sheila. This article offers a fine tribute and gives a real sense for the impact they continue to have on Minnesota. Instead, I want to share how I learned of the Senator’s death (at the time, I didn’t know others were with him when his plane crashed).
Mrs. Duf, a very young TinyE, and I were driving up north for a weekend with my book club. As we drove, we listened to CD’s and didn’t use the radio. TinyE slept. As we got close to the cabin we’d rented for the weekend, we stopped at the Split Rock Lighthouse. Arriving to the entrance to the State park, we were pretty happy. We might even have been skipping and whistling. Northern Minnesota is so beautiful this time of year. All colors greeted us wherever we went.
The guard who worked the entrance station sobered us up very quickly. She was crying. She said “I assume you haven’t heard.”
We said “no, what happened?”
And that’s when we learned of the tragedy.
She added “he was a real friend of the State Parks.
And true enough, he was. In point of fact, he was a friend to so many.