This is a forum where Carleton alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends shared their remembrances of former political science professor and U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone. Click here to submit your own remembrance.
July 18, 2009: It's been several years since Paul and Sheila Wellstone's tragic deaths, but there continue to be many reminders of his impact on my life. Listening to Senator Franken at the Sotomayor hearing this week, as he invoked the memory of Wellstone's cross party organizing, I was moved to share this story inspired by my former political science professor (fall 1971).
While riding the ferry to Tacoma, I was talking with a fellow commuter, telling her about the challenges and pleasures of working with students who do not share my point of view (I teach art for social change at UW Tacoma). I told my companion that I was committed to having an open dialog with students who appear to come from a totally different perspective. Another commuter overheard us and said, "that sounds like something Paul Wellstone would say." I laughed and said, "I don't remember Paul saying that exactly, but he certainly reinforced my progressive values and gave me more tools for understanding how important organizing for social change is." Then I looked at the other commuter, a woman who was a stranger to me, and said, "are you a fellow Carl?" She said, "yes, and Paul had a big impact on my life as well." I found out that she works as a public defender, and while I don't remember her name, it is clear that we belong to a special club of Carls who can claim Paul as a mentor, someone who reinforced or shifted our values in profound ways.
I am grateful I got to work with him as a freshwoman, although I didn't realize at the time how unusual he was. I thought it was natural for a teacher to facilitate classes in the ways that he did, and now know it is rare. I am glad to be able to celebrate that rarity.
— Beverly Naidus '75, Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Arts, UW Tacoma (Vashon, WA)
March 1, 2003: I am a freshman at Carleton and a native of Washington, DC. When I was a junior in high school, I went with a small group of students to the Capitol to lobby for DC voting rights. Paul Wellstone was the only Congressman who would speak to us and take us seriously. He was very warm and genuinely concerned, and he truly made us feel that we could be heard and could make a difference. We took a picture with him and he signed it and sent copies to all of us. I tacked the photo on the wall of my dorm room a week before the crash, and it's still there. I did not know him as many of you have, as a professor, a fellow activist, a friend. But he was still an inspiration to me, and I hope he will always be remembered for his sincerity and his strength.
— Sarah Gilberg '06
February 23, 2003: In the winter and spring of 1978 a group of Carleton students initiated an action to cause the review of the stock portfolio of Carleton's endowment fund, with the aim of restricting investments in apartheid South Africa. Eventually we took our protest to the spring trustees' meeting and forced the issue. Our actions resulted in a confrontation which became quite heated at times with several sharp interchanges between students and trustees. It is worth noting that our actions eventually did cause Carleton to implement a very progressive and responsive policy with respect to stock investments and financial support of South Africa, and that this turned out to be the beginning of a wave of divestment protests which continued for the next 20 years and did bring substantial pressure on the South African government to end apartheid, But that's not the immediate point of this memory:At some point one of the trustees rose from his seat and angrily and forcefully began to lecture to "this young man" who was one of the principles of the protest. A wave of quiet laughter passed over the protesters as we realized that the "young man" whom the trustee was addressing was in fact Paul Wellstone. And indeed, in his blue t-shirt and cutoff jeans, Paul - by then a fully tenured professor of political science - easily be mistaken for an undergraduate. As I recall, nobody bothered to correct the trustee's misconception.
We constantly hear the phrase "youthful idealism"; perhaps when thinking about Paul Wellstone we might wish to consider that it is our idealism which keeps us youthful.
— Morris Schreibman '78
February 22, 2003: I remember a very young Paul Welllstone standing at the side door of a little house in Northfield, welcoming me as I came to care for his babies while he and Sheila went to a meeting. It was the early spring of 1970 and the campus was alive with protest. Paul was just a little older than the students and even more passionate than the most vocal of our student leaders. But as he kissed the kids good-night, he was just "daddy". He and Sheila welcomed me to their home, reminded me to take good care of the childen, and held hands as they walked to campus.Through the rest of my years at Carleton, Paul was a very visible and usually controversial figure. I was too self-conscious to speak up at political meetings and probably too provincial to realize the gravity of the issues in the air. That didn't seem to matter a bit to the Wellstones. They were warm, welcoming, genuinely interested in me and so many others for the young people we were. We didn't have to earn their regard with political credentials.
That reverence for the human spirit, combined with a flaming passion for justice, informed Paul and Sheila's work at Carleton and in Washington. This is the greatness that I remember: a brilliant young professor with a vision and the energy to bring it to life who was, fundamentally, daddy, husband, and friend. How lucky we are to have known him.
— Margaret Crowley '72
February 21, 2003: I am attaching a poetic tribute to Paul Wellstone I composed last October 30 and have shared with many friends and admirers of this extraordinary man and his incredibly gifted family.—Dave Blodgett '43
I’m a son of Jewish immigrants.
Leon and Minnie are their names,
Intelligent, proud and poor.
I’m five feet five
And weigh 126.
The president’s dad
Calls me "little chickenshit."
But I don’t mind
Cause I can find
Good in everyone
And damn, I hold the record
In the Capitol Gym
For pushups and pullups
Top that Dubya, if you can.
With a lowly 800 SAT,
Wrestling paved my way
Through North Carolina’s University
From BA to doctoral degree
From ’69 to ’91 I taught poli-sci at Carleton
Saul Alinsky style
And gathered an army of friends.
I married a coal miner’s daughter,
And Sheila gave me three
Unbelievable kids in
David, Mark and Marci.
For 39 years her passionate love
Kept my soul in flames.
She left a love note in the breakfast nook
Just the other day.
It read, "WE WILL WIN!"
And now I hear 20,000 voices
Filling the U of M gym
Echoing my son Mark’s reprise:
WE WILL WIN! WE WILL WIN!
Fear of flying is prophetic,
And on that fateful day
We died in each other’s arms
On Minnesota’s cold and rainy Iron Range.
But like Joe Hill before me
I’m here today to say
Takes more than death to kill a man
"I never died," said he.
"I never died," said he.
February 21, 2003: Paul was one of the first people I met after coming to the Twin Cities in 1983. I was newly married, unemployed and using lots of my abundant free time looking to get involved with the local peace and justice community. He gave me a ride home from some meeting and what could have been a 20 minute ride turned into a long chance to share justice politics over a beer. Over the following years, we'd frequently reconnect, then came his '90 Senate race. Inspired by his campaign and first years of service, I ran for U.S. Congress in '92 against Rep. Jim Ramstad, securing both the endorsement and the DFL spot on the November ballot-- all literally on a shoestring campaign. Our colors were green, and since I had the same name, I "borrowed" about one hundred green "Paul" buttons while adopting a green shoestring for my campaign symbol.My kids made our first signs, my home answering maching was our campaign phone, and several political friends for whom I'd volunteered over the years in various campaigns served as my advisors. We spent only what we could raise since I had continued to work full time, and by election day, we 'd raised and spent just over $ 20,000 (against Rep. Ramstad's $600,000 plus),securing 120,000 votes to the incumbents' 200,000 votes, which I think was the closest margin in all his races. Through it all, we were able to convey a clear message, trying our best to counter what came out of Washington and, in the end, I think we offered a contrast not only on the issues but on the entire problem of campaign financing. I'd like to believe that our effort contributed to the Democrats taking back the White House, but I know for certain that many of our wonderful supporters and campaign volunteers, including my kids,all gained a new appreciation for empowerment, community activism and public policy, all because Paul inspired me to believe one person can make a difference.
Now, the world is a darker place due to his absence, and I will forever miss our friendly chats, our sideline policy sessions, and his great bear hugs, not to mention his honest, courageous, inspiring leadership. In my lifetime, I've witnessed the deaths of both John and Bobby Kennedy (who was also my Senator when he was killed, as well as Martin Luther King and now Paul. I consider myself lucky and blessed to have known four such great leaders, all of whom had their lives snuffed out way too early in their
lives, but I know in my heart that I will probably never again find what I found in my friend Paul Wellstone. — Paul Mandell, Inver Grove Heights
February 16, 2003: I ran across this picture of a happy time we had at the Mn State Fair with Paul, in 2001. This is a picture of Katie Zerwas, '06 (and her mother) with Paul. Taken around the first of Sept. 2001.
This was taken before Katie considered attending Carleton. I remember that he and Shelia were so generous with their time with each who was lined up at the fair that day...you almost had to look at your watch and say "well, we really have to get going now, before the corn dog stands close..." !! in order to not feel guilty about taking time away from the next in line! It was a special day. We're awfully glad we stood in that line...—Bonnie Russ, parent '06
November 27, 2002: It's still hard for me to believe that Paul Wellstone is gone. He was certainly true to his convictions. While we were undoubtedly on opposite ends of the political spectrum (I'm a die-hard Republican conservative), I respected his integrity and energy. Plus anyone who could beat Rudy B. with all the funding he had must have something on the stick when it comes to politics. Has anyone written a book about that campaign?; it'd be an interesting read.
I knew Paul when I was a student at Carleton in the early '70s. Actuall, I ran with him during cross country season. I knew he was fit being a wrestler, but it took all I had to keep up with him when we ran! (I didn't realize he had MS later.)
I probably won't be able to make it to event this coming March. However, I hope Carleton and the alumni are considering a possible funded chair in Paul's name for the poliitical science department. I'd certainly contribute. — Eric W. Guttag '74
November 6, 2002: A feature from Creative Loafing (Atlanta), by Tom Bell '92:
Can I get a witness?
Paul Wellstone embodied the stubborn idealist in all of us
The first time I saw Paul Wellstone, he was standing in the aisle of the Carleton College chapel, his muscular arms accentuating the high-decibel points of a tirade directed at a conservative speaker standing five feet above him behind the battlements of a lectern.
Back then, he was professor Wellstone, and I was a freshman. His green bus ride to the Senate was just a year away. It was a rare mild day in Northfield, Minn., and Wellstone wore a short-sleeved knit shirt that bulged and stretched to accommodate the former wrestling champ's sculpted abdomen. Short, compact, angry and lethal, he was a living allegory of the little man's power.
When he finished yelling, Wellstone turned his back on the speaker and stomped out of the chapel. I remember wondering at the time, "Why didn't he stay to let him respond?"
What did he imagine he had accomplished with his rage?
It was a fair question to ask of Wellstone, best known on campus for his popular class, "Social Movements and Grassroots Organizing," which was all about transforming high ideals into effective real-world change. He was that rarest kind of idealist, passionately dedicated to finding practical means of achieving uncompromised principles. The practicality is rare in a professor, the uncompromised principles unheard of in a politician.
A year later, upsetting the predictions of pundits and pollsters, Wellstone unseated incumbent Rudy Boschwitz and became Minnesota's junior senator. Not long after his election, I met Sen. Wellstone at a picnic on the Mayo Clinic lawn. He wore a suit this time and had acquired a certain graciousness that had been notably absent that day in the chapel. He walked among us, talking pleasantly, listening politely.
But Wellstone had not been tamed. His behavior on the Senate floor remained that of the podium-pounding activist who didn't give a damn what his opponents had to say in their own defense. During an era when the Democratic Party was rushing toward the center, Wellstone was an unrepentant liberal, a loud-mouthed champion of farmers and laborers, of single moms on welfare and the embattled environment.
In Minnesota, we wondered what good he was doing. Wellstone was widely admired for his convictions, even among conservatives. But what could he accomplish if he alienated the other 99 senators and refused to make some expedient deals?
Wellstone's voting record is a litany of quixotic stands. In 1991, he cast one of only two votes against the Senate's overwhelming approval of the Gulf War. He voted against confirmation of Clarence Thomas, against the ratification of NAFTA, against the 1996 Welfare and Medicaid "Reform" Act, against confirmation of John Ashcroft, against George W. Bush's mammoth tax cut, and, just a few weeks ago, against giving Bush a loaded gun and a blank hall pass to Iraq.
From the standpoint of constructive grassroots change, Wellstone's time in the Senate might seem a spectacular failure. Having won the kind of power that would send most hungry activists into spontaneous orgasm, he was unable to shift the outcome in a disheartening abundance of important votes. He roared, huffed and raged. But while many senators publicly applauded him as their conscience, at roll call most politely ignored the angry angel on their shoulder.
I first heard of Wellstone's death from my wife, also a Carleton graduate. I was sitting at a coffee shop working on a story when she called me on my cell phone. Wellstone's airplane had crashed in rural Minnesota. Everyone was dead: Wellstone, wife Sheila, daughter Marcia, three staffers and the two pilots. After my wife delivered the news, she said, "He was one of the good ones."
We shared a long silence over the phone.
Wellstone didn't transform the world, though he sure as hell tried. His highest ideals remain unrealized. His finest intentions were frustrated to his final day. But Wellstone was a loud and lonely voice bearing witness to our nation's sins and squandered opportunities. He was the one who would say, no matter the political cost, "This is wrong, and I won't go along with it." He was our "West Wing" fantasy: We knew that Washington wasn't really run by brilliant, passionate, noble men like him, but oh how we wished that it was.
It's raining hard as I write this. That's not a device; it's just the plain truth. There's lightning in the gray sky. It's raining hard, and Paul Wellstone is dead. I can't bring him back. I don't have the skills or strength to take his place, and I don't know anyone else who does. But I will bear witness:
A professor, a senator and a good man, he fought for what was right -- and often he failed. He spoke for what was right, and many of us heard him. We were reminded of the compromises we'd made along the way and long ago forgotten, of how we'd stopped trying, stopped caring, stopped shouting and stomping when monsters were among us. He showed us through his defiant example how cynical we'd become, and he inspired us to fight hopeless battles once again, if only to bear witness to a more virtuous way.
He's gone now, but there are thousands upon thousands of us who will never forget him.
Can I get a witness?
November 5, 2002: Amen! My thoughts echo all of the nice things that's been said of Paul in all of the tributes that I've read of him. I was honored and blessed to have had Paul as a professor, advisor, friend, and champion for so many of the issues that I care about. He made a huge difference in my life as he did for countless others. He was all about others, not himself. Paul taught, inspired, and, of course, organized. Through others, his life and work will live on. Whatever I've been able to accomplish in working for social justice is due to him and is my ultimate tribute to his legacy. I'm sure many of his other former students feel the same way. Since leaving Carleton, I've never attended a class reunion. The kind of reunion that I would attend is one of former Wellstone students. He had such a positive impact on our lives and careers. From reading the postings on this message board, I now realize that I have far more in common with his other former students, regardless of graduating class, than I do with my former classmates. When I think of Paul, I think of Tom Joad's lines at the end of the film version of the Grapes of Wrath: "I'll be all around in the dark. I'll be ever'-where - wherever you can look. Wherever there's a fight so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever there's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there. I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad - I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry an' they know supper's ready. An' when the people are eatin' the stuff they raise, and livin' in the houses they build - I'll be there, too." I know that Paul will continue to be there and that his spirit and work will live on. — Mark Tajima '73
November 5, 2002: For as much as Paul meant to us on the national political level, it's amazing how much he meant to so many people on a personal level. The last assignment in each of the two classes I had with Paul was to write something reflecting on how what we learned impacted us personally. It was of course impossible not to take the material learned in those courses personally, since Paul so obviously did! In fact, his daughter Marcia, a high school student at the time, sat in on the Social Movements and Grassroots Organizing course that whole trimester. When students asked her why, she said it was because the course meant so much to her dad and she wanted to know why.
Writing those reflective papers was an important process for me, and talking them over afterwards with Paul in that fourth story Willis office with his piles of books teetering precariously nearby, is one of my best Carleton memories. I was really touched when I saw Paul earlier this year at a fundraiser in North Carolina and he said, "Remember talking together in that office?" That he would remember something that must have happened for him with hundreds of students over the years, but that meant so much to this one student, was amazing. I will really miss Paul - the senator who made us all proud, and the teacher who made such a difference to so many of us. — Carol Brooke '88
November 5, 2002: I was deeply affected by the tragic deaths of Marcia, Sheila, and Paul Wellstone in a plane crash in northern Minnesota. Paul Wellstone's career in the U.S. Senate made many Carls proud to say they knew Paul when he was their professor here at Carleton.
Paul was a powerful, yet humble teacher, and his passion for issues of social justice was infectious. Rather than devote his spare time to research and writing, in the early 70s Paul was active in the local community. For several years Paul spent much of his free time organizing a welfare rights group, Organization for a Better Rice County (OBRC). Through Paul's work, some of us were fortunate enough to learn real life lessons about community organizing.
What we learned from Paul bore fruit in the 1973-74 school year, when the Government Department announced that Wellstone would not be given tenure. Led by several of Paul's Urban Studies majors, students organized rallies, petition drives, and protests at Board of Trustees' meetings, demanding that Paul be given tenure. These student leaders, schooled by Paul in the lessons of power and organizing, orchestrated such an effective campaign that the Board was forced to appoint several independent professors from outside schools to reconsider the decision. Needless to say, they recommended Paul receive tenure.
Paul touched the lives of thousands of students during his 20 years at Carleton. Despite his distinguished career in the U.S. Senate, I believe Paul's greatest legacy may be his many students, who continue to fight for the visions of social justice he inspired and nurtured. — Chuck Palmer '75
November 5, 2002: Election day thoughts: I'm waiting for a call from campaign headquarters for [I won't name the person because this isn't supposed to be political, right?]. I'll be coordinating the get-out-the-vote phone banks at the Steelworkers' hall this afternoon. I dropped by the headquarters for the first time yesterday because I wasn't getting any work done, and they put me right to work. I guess I've been promoted.
It's been a long time since I did more than send money and vote; the last time I did any political work was making calls for Paul's first Senate run. For too long, I've left it to Paul to do it all; I knew that I could trust him to take on my issues, to support my values, to speak up. I suppose if I hadn't dropped out of Carleton just after he came (or hadn't been so far behind with my bio major, language requirement, teaching certificate classes, etc., when I finally came back to campus), I would have taken his classes. He might have taught me to carry my own political/moral weight. I suppose it's not too late for this slow learner.
I've been trying to understand why losing Paul & Sheila has left such a huge hole in my heart. I think it may be partly because we've lost not just great, compassionate friends and teachers, but because we know there's no one else quite like them--it feels more like an extinction of a species than a couple of deaths.
Thanks to all of you who learned more quickly than I did and who have been carrying on Paul's work all these years. I hope he realized how far his good works spread. — Ann Iijima '72
November 4, 2002: An op/ed from the Baltimore Sun: Everyone who has watched television or read the paper in the last few days has been told repeatedly how liberal and outspoken was the late Sen. Paul Wellstone.
We have been reminded of his controversial votes in 1996 on welfare reform and, more recently, his "no" vote on a congressional resolution authorizing an attack on Iraq. Stories have abounded of his combative and fiery rhetoric. We have witnessed political allies and foes praise his principled behavior as a U.S. senator. Even President Bush had a kind word.
But there has been little talk about what may be Paul Wellstone's most lasting legacy.
Long after the tributes are through and tomorrow's election is over and the pundits argue what effect Mr. Wellstone's death had on which party gained control of the Senate, there will still be scores of men and women like myself who will continue his work. We are Paul's Carleton College students, and we form a small army of progressive professionals throughout the United States.
I met Mr. Wellstone my freshman year, 31 years ago, during the Vietnam War, at Carleton, which is situated in Northfield, Minn. Mr. Wellstone was not much older than the students he taught. We were impressionable. He was a young radical professor. He had a following of students like myself. We were attracted to his antiwar stance. He was a professor whom we not only admired but with whom we could identify.
Mr. Wellstone knew how to use the privilege and resources of Carleton. To his classes came George Wiley, founder of the National Welfare Rights Organization, Frances Fox Piven, the welfare scholar, and Saul Alinsky, the famous Chicago organizer and founder of the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), of which BUILD is an affiliate.
Even the assignments in Mr. Wellstone's classes were courses of study in the practice of organizing. In my freshman year, Mr. Wellstone assigned us to research the welfare system in rural Rice County, Minn. He took us to organizational meetings of welfare mothers, fighting to replace a food commodity program with food stamps.
In the early 1970s, movement organizing was the only variety of organizing on display on college campuses. Most students were exposed to organizing through mass protest demonstrations. Mr. Wellstone introduced us to old-fashioned community and labor organizing tactics.
We learned that 25 welfare mothers could research a policy and understand it. We learned that those same mothers with kids in tow could close down a county courthouse until someone would recognize them. We learned that compromise and negotiation are a part of organizing. In Mr. Wellstone's classes, we read the theory of organizing, and went on to practice the art.
Today, his students are everywhere.
In Washington state, Joe Crastil is organizing with the IAF. In Chicago, Tracy Abman is one of the bright young labor organizers in the country. Ben Gordon directs organizing for New York with the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees. Matt Finucane is the assistant director of the Civil Rights Department of the AFL-CIO. Kari Moe played a key role in the election of Harold Washington as mayor of Chicago. There are more.
All of those Wellstone students have been calling each other in the past few days. I know because I have received calls from all over the country. We are now in our 40s and 50s.
But it's amazing how many of us still organize as a vocation. Mr. Wellstone's teaching took. He was a unique senator. I'm sure most people will remember him that way.
But we now middle-aged Wellstone students know his true legacy as an inspiring teacher. Thanks, Mr. Wellstone. — Jonathan Lange '75 is the lead organizer of BUILD (Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development).
November 3, 2002: The news of Paul Wellstone's death was shocking. What a terrible loss for our country. A few days ago, in Hanoi, Vietnam, where I live, I enjoyed a performance by the Chicago Trio and Friends, a music group that tours to places with few opportunities to listen to the types of music it plays--a wide range from chamber and opera to jazz. One of the players, Marlou Johnston, is a Carleton grad, and the man who made the group's visit to Hanoi possible is as well--John McAuliff. I was gratified that John dedicated the group's performance to Paul Wellstone's memory, and thought his family might like to know. — Susannah Hopkins Leisher '85
November 1, 2002: One of my fond memories of Paul Wellstone is his passionate description of how powerless he felt when he was in Minneapolis at an anti-war demonstration throwing marshmellows at the windows of the hall where Republicans (and maybe even the President) were having a dinner. I always wondered what he thought (on a personal level) once he became a senator.
Paul Wellstone was a protoge of Ralph Fjelstad. Much as they differed in convictions I always felt that I could see Ralph's fingerprints on him. — Karen Tarrant '70
November 1, 2002: The first vote I ever cast was for Paul Wellstone. Arriving in the fall of 1990 to Carleton as an eighteen year-old freshmen, the timing meant I never got to take a class with Wellstone, though I heard plenty of rave reviews. It did mean I received the ideal first voting experience -- for an underdog candidate with much less money who won a close election by virtue of being genuine and having better ideas. What a wonderful experience! I had a few friends who worked on that campaign... Other folks tried to copy the success of his wonderful ads afterwards, but they couldn't copy Paul Wellstone's sincerity, wit or passion.
I grew up in Arlington, Virginia (same as Paul) near D.C... perhaps because of all that political saturation, I find I feel fascinated but occasionally repulsed by politics. Still, it was hard to feel jaded when I'd catch Paul Wellstone on TV, most often boldly proclaiming the emperor had no clothes.
Education, corporate reform, social justice -- he'd champion all the great causes, especially when they were being widely overlooked. It was inspiring.
I never met Paul Wellstone; I never had a class with him; he didn't know my name. Nevertheless, I always felt a kind of propriety pride whenever I read about him or saw him speak -- he was the real thing. I felt shock when I heard he had died, and still feel an aching grief. He was my favorite politician.It seems there are far too few passionate, intelligent, articulate and sincere leaders out there. Wellstone's untimely death is a loss for the country as a whole, and a devastating, horrible loss for his family that I can't begin to imagine. Being a teacher, though, I can't help but also mourn for all Paul Wellstone would have done in the future. When he eventually returned to teaching, he would taken all his prodigious gifts, and his living example of how one person with a conscience can make a difference, to ignite the imaginations of at least one more generation. I would have loved to sit in that classroom. He will be sorely missed.— Tim Munson '94
November 1, 2002: There is an image on this page of Paul in the spring of 1970. It's a picture of such youth, and makes one's heart stand still. It is certainly how I will always remember him. The spring of '70 was one of the most important seasons of my life, and probably one of Carleton's most extraordinary—as we canceled regular classes in the wake of the U.S. invasion of Cambodia. It was also the last time I demonstrated for a cause. Eighty of us, including Paul, were arrested on the steps of the federal building in Minneapolis, preventing one short day's drafting of soldiers. We wore black armbands as a sign of mourning for the thousands who were dying. Nevertheless, I was filled with such hope and energy and enthusiasm.
What happens as one ages? Now I understand that age doesn't simply bring complacency and lots of "stuff" to be preoccupied with. If we aren't careful, it brings a sort of despair. Perhaps especially with our political system. We give up believing what we do makes any difference. Paul never gave up believing in the American system, or the responsibility of each citizen to participate. Last Saturday I could not sit at home and mourn. It was too painful. I went down to the Vietnam Memorial and demonstrated with (so they say) about 99,999 others, against war in Iraq. My first demonstration in 32 years. Lo and behold, there were many nondescript old people like myself, this time some with green armbands. Paul, I know you meant to make a difference with your life—not with your death. But your death has also jolted me back into consciousness.
— Renny Seidel '73
November 1, 2002: Having read many of the tributes and remembrances of Paul Wellstone over the last week, trying desperately to keep him around as long as I can, all I can add here is, "Me, too."
But one more thing: here in Montana most of the news has centered on the politics angle, who will control the Senate, and how Wellstone and Jesse Helms were flip sides of the same coin. So I've avoided the news as much as possible. But my heart was warmed when I happened to catch a story on how the memorial service had turned into a political rally. I giggled like a schoolkid. How perfect that is. How very appropriate.
— Timothy Nielson '89
November 1, 2002: My encounters on campus with Senator Wellstone are ones I shall never forget. He a liberal, and me trying to figure out just what I was, but not exactly that. But agree with him or not, he touched us all, and he made us think and confront ourselves and our own beliefs. He admired those who spoke out and stood up for their beliefs. He showed us all how grassroot politics really works, by getting himself elected. And so the value of not only voting, but discussion of issues, and the encouragement of others, regardless of their beliefs and politics, to get involved. And above all else, to vote. He reinforced my belief that apathy was and is today one of the biggest enemies of this country and our democracy and our very freedom. His teachings helped encourage me to stay involved, and so I am at least somewhat of an activist. I read and listen a lot, I discuss with others frequently, I encourage others to get out and vote because their vote does make a difference, and I vote.
I did not agree with Senator Wellstone in many of his beliefs, but I valued him as a very good and honest human being. We need more like him in the world today, and most ESPECIALLY in politics. His values, his passion, and his honesty were always a breath of fresh air in the classroom, on campus, and in the Senate. He will be missed terribly. I will miss him terribly.
— Steve Parker '74
October 31, 2002: Unfortunately, I never met Paul Wellstone nor had the opportunity to take any classes with him during my years at Carleton. I knew well of him by reputation, and he always seemed to me to embody many of the principles that my education at Carleton impressed on me. I was saddened to learn of the untimely and tragic deaths of the Senator, family members, and staff. — Karl Sieber '75
October 31, 2002: "The personal is the political." I was taught this concept, stemming from feminism, populism, the civil rights movement, in one of my many political science classes at Carleton. Paul Wellstone knew the truth of this statement more than any other Senator. He put himself on the line so often by standing up for the many who are never allowed a voice. The moment we forget this concept, the personal is political, is the moment we lose our agency to be active participants in our democratic society.
I met Paul Wellstone while on the Washington DC Political Science program led by Prof. Steve Schier. Meeting with him one gray afternoon, I was inspired by his willingness to truly speak his mind. He was not appealing to us as potential voters, but as people, asking us what we thought was right and just.
Unfortunately some of my fellow students poo-pooed Paul after we left, calling him a blow hard. I was saddened to hear their surface assessment. True, Paul wasn't the polite statesman, he was challenging and aggressive. But of all of the politicos we met on the trip, Paul was one of the only ones who truly spoke his mind, candidly and openly. He was someone who I could believe in, he was there fighting the fight. That afternoon in his office still inspires me to act when I know it would just be easier to go along with my everyday life.
As we remember Paul we must remember his legacy. This is not the time to be polite, but a time to speak our minds and stand up for others who do not have a voice.
— Anne Godfrey '97
October 31, 2002: I share very pleasant memories of Senator Wellstone at our 40th reunion three years ago. How unfortunate that his memorial service in Minneapolis was marred by the unseemliness of partisan politics at a time when we could have simply remembered his contribution as a warm and generous person to our lives. A more appropriate memorial could be held one day at Carleton College. — Jay F. Kent, M.D. '59
October 31, 2002: Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. PhD said, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." If I learned nothing else from Senator (Professor) Wellstone, it was to stand my ground in times of challenge and controversy. Do not opt for that which is popular, but rather for that which is right. It's usually a lonely place to be, but "a man who stands for nothing will fall for anything."
While I was a student at Carleton, I did something that was very "unpopular, inconvenient and uncomfortable." I became pregnant my junior year and did the unthinkable; I decided to keep my child and raise him while still a student at Carleton. My last 18 months as a student at Carleton were very uncomfortable and full of inconveniences, but I stood on my beliefs and morals. Today, I have a very sharp, aware and compassionate son whom I could not imagine existing without. I have a son who has been taught to stand up for what you feel is right even in the face of adversity.
I am very proud of the job Senator Wellstone did not Washington. He was a lamb amongst wolves, but he did not let that deter him from doing what he believed was right. He did not waiver to follow the crowd and did not compromise his beliefs. He was a man of dignity, and a man who made the impossible seem possible. I remember when he decided to run for office. Who would have thought a college professor in small town Minnesota, with 1/10 of the financial backing as his opponent, who traveled the State, campaigning on a bus, would have made it to the White House? He epitomized the saying by Pearl S. Buck, "All things are possible until they are proved impossible - and even the impossible may only be so as of now."
Wellstone did not live for himself, but for others. He did not neglect the least of us. I read an article in the New York Times about him and it spoke of how he returned to the House after midnight to thank the cleaning crew for everything they had done. That's just how he was and from his example, that's how I am today. He did not see kind acts as something that was required, but it was his nature. He found joy in doing the small things for the least of us and as a result, had a far-reaching impact on every person he came into contact with. Mark Twain said, "Let us so live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry." And, so did Senator Wellstone.
I have a picture I took with Senator Wellstone when he visited the school towards the end of my senior year. I'm standing next to Wellstone, holding my infant son. I will forever cherish that picture and a man who measured up in every respect and taught me to just stand.
— Stacy LaShae Burnside '92
October 31, 2002: Because of Govt 101 w/ Paul my freshman year I majored in Political Science, served as a VISTA volunteer, and developed professional expertise in social marketing.
There is no greater gift than to inspire people to reach harder, to question more and to give back based on their blessings and opportunities. My husband, a conservative, and I, a liberal, grieve Paul's loss, because we and our girls have lost him as a living testament to the power of passion, grace and conviction.
I am so grateful to have experienced such a powerhouse in my youth. I hope Carleton will find a way to sponsor a Wellstone symposium, to carry forward his questions and sense of purpose.
— Jane Oleski Smith '77
October 31, 2002:
A Letter To Paul. It was supposed to be a vacation. Three days, two night away. A chance to relax and reflect on the life I had found myself in. Someplace where I could only be found by those I chose. To hang out with penguins and just write. To act like a tourist so close to home.
But, no. God forbid, you had to ruin it all. You had to rip apart my peaceful morning. Couldn’t leave me to pretend everything would be ok could you? Just had to force me to look at the bigger picture and reject the easy way as usual, didn’t you?
I remember the last time I saw you. It was July 3, 2001. I was back at the same window I had looked out as a girl. My best friend’s house, the high school gymnasium across the street. Amongst a hundred others there you stood. Even after fifteen years, I was in awe of you. My teacher, my mentor, my friend. Not sure you would even remember me, I went out to see for myself.
"I used to teach you know?", I overheard you say to another young woman. "Yeah, he was a pretty damn good one too", I interrupted. Your face erupted with surprise and joy. "Kim, what the hell are you doing here? What have you been up to?"
We hugged and I filled you in. I told you about my three years in Chicago fighting for social justice. I shared how my mom died 5 years prior. We talked about my move to CA and my continued work with homeless kids and my attempts to save the world. You couldn’t talk long, but I knew you couldn’t have been prouder. When I saw you a little later, I remember you pointing me out and bragging. You promised to come visit. You never did keep that promise.
October 25, 2002
"Today in a tragic plane crash near Eveleth, MN, Senator Paul Wellstone, his wife Sheila, and daughter Marcia along with three staff and two pilots were killed."
It couldn’t be true. It just couldn’t. How was I to make sense out of this? How could I relate to a nation mourning for the loss of Senator Wellstone, when I was mourning for the loss of Paul? That voice that still lives in my head challenging me to do what is right.
I sit here now, watching penguins to recapture my sanity, wondering. Wondering if you knew how you changed my life, and the lives of so many of my friends. Did you know, how that day in your office when you shoved me towards a semester in Chicago would bring me to where I am today? You challenged every political and ethical belief I held. You showed me how to sort mine out from those of others and how to stand up for them unwavering, no matter who else was beside me. You taught me that one person can change the world. I learned about integrity and passion and truth.
So often it is the last time we see someone before they die that we remember most. For me it will be the first. That day in August 1986, a young girl trying to make sense out of a world she was living in. Politics and such so foreign to me. You stood up there bigger than life, talking about things I can’t even remember now. After though, we talked about my little town. About how the mines were closing down and how a way of life was disappearing. I knew then, this was the beginning. A year later, you stopped mid thought in a room of a hundred other students, to recognize me, a mere freshman, on her first day of college, in her first class. You remembered me, and our conversation, and the connection we had made. For four years I would hang on every word you said. Soak in every idea you put before me. I would find peace in the world of injustice and wrongs, determined to do it different. I watched you live what you believed and was determined to do the same. You were what was right about politics. To stand alone if necessary for what you believed. To take the unpopular stand. To be the one out of 100 not to agree.
I will mourn for you. Not because this world lost a great senator, but because it lost a great human being. My life is a tribute to you, one I know you were proud of. One of a thousand others who you touched. You did not die in that plane crash because you live on in the hearts and work of so many still alive.
— Kimberly Fallon '91
October 30, 2002: When I first saw Paul Wellstone around 1969 leading a group protesting against closed administrative meetings on campus, I thought he was one of us students. Not long after, I was signed up for Gov 10, to fulfill a distribution requirement. I went to the first class with a more traditional professor whose name I don't even remember and sat through a lecture on the three branches of government. For some reason, I changed schedules and ended up in Paul's class. What a difference! He had a Black Panther come in to speak, he railed against the AMA, and he talked about the power line controversy. As a child of old-time activists, I wasn't shocked but encouraged by the possibilities of grass-roots organizing. Paul wanted us to get involved, not just to write a paper, which confused some of the class. Although I didn't do much at the time, I was since then fortunate enough to be involved in some rallies and phone banks in both his senate campaigns. When my children heard me speak cynically about politicians and once asked, "Aren't there any good politicians?" I was able to say, "Yes, Paul Wellstone."
I am not proud of Carleton for almost terminating Paul, but I am proud of the way his supporters used his own tactic of organizing to get him reinstated. There are different kinds of teaching and different kinds of learning, even at a highly academic institution. How many professors had the kind of effect that dozens of former students are expressing on this site and in newspapers around the country? I'm sure even those who disagreed with him remember him still. He is irreplaceable.
— Robin Rogg Proud '72
October 30, 2002: So many people have stories about their personal interactions with Paul - how did he do it? He seemed to have made time for everybody in the state. I cherish my encounters with him. While the Tuesday Memorial service is criticized, and probably deservedly so, for some of the passionate but partisan speeches, personally I was proud to be part of it. I was amazed and awed by how many people loved and respected him, and it helped assuage some of my grief to yell, and scream, and chant his name with 20,000 other people, equally saddened but fired up to "struggle on", in the name of Paul and Sheila. — Amelia (Amy) Sparks '94
October 30, 2002: I would like to thank all the people who have contributed to Carleton's website in memory of Paul Wellstone and to the Carleton people who have hosted the website. It has been helpful to read everyone's remembrances and to not feel so alone in my anguish and anger.
I think it was partly my stories about Paul Wellstone, and his influence on my experiences at Carleton, that encouraged my son to enroll this year as a freshman at Carleton. On Saturday, October 26, I wrote the following note to my son: "I downloaded pictures of Paul Wellstone off the Carleton website. The one of him standing in front of a blackboard with his tight t-shirt, faded jeans, and mass of curly hair is how I remember him. He grew to be one of my heroes. He was a person who asked what all people needed and worked to help them achieve the equality for which this country stands. He did "good", even when it wasn't easy. He asked questions that needed asking and made statements that made the Senate, and the world, a better place. As the poster says, "What is popular, isn't always right. What is right, isn't always popular." Our world will miss him."
— Ellen Winter Wiczer '74
October 30, 2002: Since my freshman year at Carleton in 1988, I've learned a lot from Paul Wellstone - and the remarkable thing is, he's the only teacher I had at Carleton from whom I learned my most important lessons from outside the classroom. I worked a bit on his campaign in 1990, mostly making sure people turned out to vote, but I was pretty skeptical that he would win, and from his victory I think I learned to have faith in what might initially seem to be hopeless causes. Since I left Carleton to teach and do research in political science, I've always looked to Paul as one of the only members of Congress who could always be counted on to stand up for his beliefs, and as someone who generated a sort of passion that can't be quantified in opinion polls or any of the other measures political scientists use to look at how politicians are doing in office or in their elections. That, as well, is a valuable lesson.
The thing that makes the lessons Paul has taught me so remarkable is that although I worked on many of the same political causes as he did, and while I spoke with him frequently while I was there, I can't really say I knew him that well when I was at Carleton. On the other hand, though, Paul was always an open book to even the most casual acquaintances. At Carleton and afterwards, I always considered him a friend. The two or three times I encountered him after graduation he was always talkative and friendly. What politician wouldn't be, right? But with Paul I always knew his interest was sincere. He was the only member of Congress whose voice I could recognize instantly, and every time I heard him giving a speech I would flash back to my time at Carleton. I guess that's part of why I am so saddened by his death - his death is a great loss to the nation, but for me, it also feels like a loss of one of the links I had to my own college years. It's evident that there are many people who feel this way, and so I think that Paul's legacy will be felt for years in the actions of the people he touched.
— Rob Boatright '92
October 30, 2002: I remember waiting in Scoville Hall on a warm September day in 1969, waiting for the start of a class on Latin-American politics, when in bustled a muscular young guy with a tight yellow t-shirt and frizzy hair and an armload of books, who headed for the podium, dumped his books and papers and fiddled with them for a moment. I had no idea who he was (he sure didn’t look like any Government professor Carleton had up till then) and my first thought was, “Who is this sophomore? He’s got a lot of nerve!” And then he wrote his name on the blackboard and I learned who Paul Wellstone was. The political science department was never the same after that.
Like everyone else here, I have my own memories of how patient and enthusiastic a person he was, and how he always managed to take time to convey how interested he was in the person he was talking to. He was this way as a teacher and a senator. I admired him as a teacher, because he didn’t teach his courses as though they were something to be studied in the abstract, but as living events, on which we were called to make decisions. In Latin American politics, for example, he didn’t just expect us to learn what US policy was, but he asked us “what do you think about it? Is it right? Is this what we should be doing? What should we do about it?”
I gained from him the idea that government is not just a thing to be studied, but an institution that should serve the average person, and in which the poor and disadvantaged should have an equal voice with the wealthy and privileged, and that each of us has an obligation to become involved in this effort. He had a great influence on my career.
I cannot honor Paul without remembering Sheila. It was obvious to me that she was an equal partner in his beliefs and in everything he did. Paul got the publicity, but I don’t think he felt that he acted alone; I think he felt his wife was a part of everything he did and accomplished. They worked together all his career, and it is no coincidence that they gave their lives together for the same causes.
I am devastated by their loss. I feel like applying to them the eulogy of another hero who shared some of Paul and Sheila’s beliefs: “that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to the cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.” Paul and Sheila are dead, but not the example they lived.
— Peter Drymalski ‘71
October 30, 2002: Paul Wellstone was a great man. I took a Political Science introductory course from him as a sophomore in 1978. I remember him as both tiny and huge -- a short man with an enormous physical presence. He moved and spoke and acted with confidence and passion, but also showed tremendous respect and kindness for those of us who were lucky enough to be students in his class. I remember him agonizing over what books to require in our class to represent conservative viewpoints. He very much wanted to be fair, and respectfully hear and allow different views to be represented in his classroom, but said that he could not find books that represented conservatives well. He asked for our help.
Paul would gesticulate wildly, railing against the unfairness of societal inequities for a full hour in class, red faced and sweating from the exertion, and then sit with me after class and calmly discuss the finest minutiae of political process.
What an incredible loss, and what a daunting call to us to try to honor him through our own actions. My heart goes out to Paul's family and friends. Shalom Paul.
— Dave Rapp '80
October 30, 2002: I was a Minnesotan before I became a student at Carleton College, and my first reaction to Paul Wellstone was one of extreme admiration that he stood up and exposed Rudy Boschwitz for the mean-spirited extremist that he was - and then defeated him! Wellstone was never afraid to be honest about his position on the issues, he never stooped to using attack ads in his campaigns, and you couldn't help but be inspired by his energy, optimism, and down-to-earth attitude (you had to love the green bus). Later, I learned much more about his background in grass-roots activism and his heartfelt progressive idealism from friends who had known him as students, as fellow activists in the divestment campaign on campus, or as volunteers for his senate campaign. Their description of his personal and political devotion deeply inspired me. And as the years have gone by, I've sought out his words (on CSPAN, in his books, in media interviews, etc.) when I have felt political despair. His final vote against authorizing W to lead us to war against Iraq was just such a time. I wish I had had the opportunity to thank him for the many times when he stood up and so eloquently expressed what had been on my mind and in my heart. I deeply regret never having had a chance to meet Wellstone or take one of his courses at Carleton. What we have lost in him can never be replaced, but I hope that those of us who share his vision can learn to be as courageous, hopeful, articulate, and peristent as he always was.
I came across a quote from him in one of the many opinion pieces published shortly after his death. It captures the way that Paul Wellstone continues to inspire me: "The future will not belong to those who are cynical or those who stand on the sidelines. The future will belong to those who have passion and are willing to work hard to make our country better."
— Britta Gustavson '93
October 30, 2002: When I think back on the professors whose courses and personalities live with me even today, I always come back to Paul Wellstone. Paul's ability to move a classroom discussion directly past textbook thinking and challenge his students to get to the heart of their core beliefs remains the most powerful lesson I received. It didn't matter that Paul and I already agreed on most political issues from the day we met; he was just as hard on me to think through my beliefs as anyone else - perhaps harder.
Paul was a great presence outside the classroom as well. I've lost track of all the organizing meetings, protests rallys, and who knows what other occasions I attended where Paul was a vibrant participant. While his energy was not enough to keep me active in political causes past Carleton, it certainly has kept me thinking about my political decisions. When I vote on Tuesday, I will vote having thought through the ramifications of my decisions, with a full knowledge of the core, fundamental values that will guide the elected officials I choose. That is the greatest lesson I learned in political science, and I couldn't have learned it without Paul Wellstone. Thank you, Paul.
— Dennis Wallick '82
October 30, 2002: I was in Paul Wellstone's Introduction to Government class back in 1972, when he had a full head of curly hair and mine was still without gray. He seemed to have boundless energy and passion for his subject, which always came back to the plight of poor people and what government policy might do to alleviate it. He was so committed to this idea that I suspected even at the time that he would go into politics one day. I was not at all surprised to learn that he had, and that he had also made his mark as a champion of the poor and working class people. "Professor" Wellstone never seemed to suit him as a title or form of address — government, for him, was not just a topic of study; it was a call to action, a means to redress wrongs and help to secure the American dream for all Americans. At the same time, he was always very committed to his family, a loving father and spouse. How sad that at this time of ethical crisis in business and government, one of the true "good guys" is taken from us.
May Paul Wellstone and all those who were taken with him enjoy eternal rest and freedom from suffering.
— Cynthia Wong '76
October 30, 2002: I am profoundly saddened by the tragic accident that took the lives of Paul Wellstone, his wife and daughter. At Carleton, I saw Paul in action. He was a relentless advocate of Divestment in the 1980's, much to the irritation of many members of the College Council. He would attend the Council meetings in Great Hall and stand near the back. When it was time to speak, Paul would convey his outrage at the college's investment policies (in his now famous oratory style) for all to hear.
In some ways, I can see that Paul was headed for a stage much larger than that in Great Hall. On the other hand, I continue to marvel at the gumption that it took for him to run for Senate. His willingness to "live his values" is rare and extremely inspiring to me.
I keep wondering why. Why would Paul and two very powerful women in their own right be taken from our community and country now? Something that Rich Kahn said at Paul's memorial service stuck with me. Rich said that to have compassion in our hearts is not enough. It is the actions that we take that reveal who we are. With our country at the brink of war, and with Paul's passing, it is up to us.
— Susan Vobejda '87
October 30, 2002: It has been several days now since the news of Paul Wellstone's death and my sadness is growing as some of the shock wears off. Politically, his death is a devastating loss for the country. But my sadness is not just like that of others on the left; it feels like a personal loss for me even though I have not actually seen Paul since 1988 when I left Carleton, before he first ran for Senate. I am losing someone in whom I took great pride. I knew Paul at Carleton during the time in my life that I was becoming radicalized and he was important to me. My circle of friends and political companions at Carleton were very radical: we were the fringe of anarchists, lesbian separatists and assorted others. Paul was also truly progressive but he kept one foot or maybe two in the mainstream and the world is so much the better for it: it permitted him to get elected to the U.S. Senate and to do incredible work there. I remember working with him in the struggle to get Carleton to divest from South Africa. I have kept close track of his political career ever since he was elected. Both when I was proud of him (not only at his election but every time he stood up with integrity and courage and passion, fighting as he did for the disenfranchised) and on the rare occasions when he disappointed me and I felt betrayed (when he chose to support the Defense of Marriage Act), my feelings were intense because I claimed him as one of "my own." I will mourn him in this way too.
— Lisa Tessman '88
October 30, 2002: A letter to the editor in the Raleigh News & Oberver: Paul Wellstone came to Minnesota's Carleton College as a professor at the start of my sophomore year. Only about three to six years older than the students, dressed in T-shirts, turtlenecks and jeans, he seemed more like a student than a professor. However, he brought to the classroom a deep understanding of how our political system worked, how change could be made, and a passionate belief that we could make that change for the good of all, especially the disenfranchised (a philosophy that came largely from his Russian Jewish immigrant parents, as it came to me from my Russian Jewish immigrant grandparents).
He taught too his firm conviction that social change was an integral part of our American legacy. He, along with other Carleton professors (in the spirit of the 1960s and '70s), imparted that belief to many of us. It was one of the best parts of my education.
Thirty-three years later-- following the entire Vietnam War era, Watergate and other political and social scandals -- it is hard to keep that belief alive. Sen. Wellstone's death does diminish that spirit, that belief. But in honor of that spirit, in honor of the bravery Wellstone displayed in his political life, in honor of the bravery of thousands of other Americans who have fought and struggled to keep our American legacy and freedom alive, we all have the responsibility, whatever our political beliefs, to make it to our polling places between now and Nov. 5, taking others with us, and vote. It is the best affirmation of the senator's belief and what we owe the victims of Sept. 11.
— Jane Pinsky '72
October 30, 2002: When I was a student at Carleton, the food service workers went on strike and Paul Wellstone refused to cross their picket lines. He taught his classes in Reynolds House, the Jewish Studies House, where I was living at the time.
Although I no longer remember the issues surrounding that strike, I clearly remember the sound of Wellstone's voice leading discussions in the Reynolds House living room. Since then, I have heard his voice on the radio during the debate on the first Gulf War, and then again in comments on the impending second, each time speaking bravely in defense of unpopular views. Who will speak up now?
— Jeremy Teitelbaum '81
October 30, 2002: I have never been prouder of Carleton than the day that the College hired Paul Wellstone, and the day it decided that it would override its initial denial of tenure for Paul after about 1400 of the 1600 students petitioned the administration to let Paul stay.
I knew Paul in three contexts: as the professor of my Govy 61 class; as the sole driving force in leaading Carleton students out on strike in (I believe) the spring of '72; and as a fellow canvasser for McGovern in the fall of 1972.
Paul was a firebrand in the classroom, raising his voice in outrage, questioning our beliefs, always demanding more, more, more! from himself, the students, and our democracy. He has never been a man of compromise. To take his class was to learn that our system was the opposite of fair; that it was run by large institutions that in no way had the well-being of the vast numbers of working class, black, female, young, and older Americans as its concern. In taking his class, you learned to be angry, and you learned that you could not sit by while great injustice was being done.
Carleton has always been a thoughtful, liberal college, but Paul, always impatient for action, was far more radical than most of us. I vividly recall him speaking at a rally on the Bald Spot, exhorting us to go on strike in, I believe, May of 1972. Some students wanted a quieter life; to just get on with things, but Paul's energy, passion, and commitment prevailed, and because of the power of his words and his passion we shut down the campus and engaged in teach-ins and protests. Here was an example of Paul's refusal to compromise; leading Carleton students on strike was hardly a way to improve his own chances at tenure, and yet he did it.
In the fall of 1972, I spent a number of Saturdays canvassing for McGovern in southern Minnesota. One Saturday, I piled into a car with Paul's close friend, my adviser Mike Caspar, and several other students. Paul and some students were in another car. Mike was the lead car for this tandem drive. Somehow, the cars got separated, but we in the lead car hadn't noticed, and just kept driving. About half an hour later, we were jerked out of conversation by a maniac car driving beside us, flashing its lights and honking its horn. There, in the front seat, was Paul Wellstone, raising a middle finger to Mike, shouting angrily and using the adjective that Mayor Richard Daley used on Senator Abe Ribicoff at the 1968 Democratic Convention (hint: M-F ). Paul had apparently been driving behind us for miles, trying furiously to catch up because we had overshot the turn and now were miles away from our destination. I was shocked that one professor would give another the finger, but that was Paul. I think that it was not the wasted miles driven but the loss of canvassing time that bothered him more than anything.
I have learned a lot more about Paul in the days since his death. Paul was not only about righting wrongs--trying to keep the Alaskan wilderness out of the hands of the oil- and timbermen; trying to provide universal health care; trying to stop 40% of the new tax breaks going to the richest 1% of the population; getting mental health covered on par with physical health; voting against a lunatic war with Iraq—he was also capable of great love and friendships. It is so clear that he and his wife Sheila had a wonderful, magical love for each other and for their children Marcia, David, and Mark.
Paul was able to look beyond politics to find that nugget of goodness in other people. Pete Domenici who represents just about everything Paul did not, was crying so hard in an interview with NPR that he couldn't speak, and Jim Jeffords choked up when talking about how Sheila would wait around late at night for Paul to finish his speeches, then walk hand-in-hand with him down the halls of the Senate. Paul had some enemies, certainly, but he had thousands of friends.
In Paul, we see everything that is right with America. Passion, belief in the goodness of the American people, and in the right of people to live up to their potential. When I heard that Paul had died, I cried, as I did for those lost on September 11th, and for Dr. Martin Luther King, President Kennedy, and Senator Kennedy—all terrible, national tragedies. America will never be the same without him. He needed us, certainly, to support him, to vote for him, but more than that, we needed him, to tell us that there is always hope, that things can always be made better.
I feel blessed to have known Paul in even such a small way, and thankful that Carleton gave me this opportunity. The loss to his family, to Minnesota, to the nation, is just so great. I can't believe that the integrity, passion, and love of this great man are gone from us forever.
— Virginia A. Smith '75
October 30, 2002: I was fortunate to meet Paul Wellstone at the beginning of his career at Carleton — I was a sophmore in 1969 when Paul came to the college, and he must have been about six years older. To say that I worshipped the ground he walked on would be fairly accurate. I learned more from him than any other professor at Carleton; it wasn't just the classes, which were substantive, challenging and thought-provoking, but the time he spent with me outside the classroom. Paul was my major advisor for one of those odd-ball independent majors that Carleton was experimenting with in the sixties and seventies, and he went out of his way for three years to help me think about everything that went into my chosen path. Paul Wellstone was instrumental in shaping my views of government, politics and the importance of individual action to bring about social change. I now live in Durham, North Carolina, not far from Chapel Hill, and the mood here is heavy... If we had a third senator, it was Paul Wellstone. Although I could not vote for him, I certainly supported him in all his efforts and felt that he was the truest, most principled politician on the Hill. I am stunned and deeply saddened, and my heart goes out to his family, other friends and constituents in Minnesota and elsewhere. May we all be comforted with the mourners of Israel and all the world...
— Galia Goodman '72
October 30, 2002: I never took a political science class, but I heard Paul speak on many occasions. There was the divestment sit-in during my first month of college, his introduction of Jesse Jackson at a farm in Northfield, his role as Jesse Jackson's representative in a presidential debate held in the chapel, and other spontaneous rallies and events. My most vivid memory of him was on the day he was elected -- a foggy, chilly day. I was going down the hill behind Musser to vote in town, and he was coming up the hill, wearing a Northfield wrestling jacket. I told him I was off to vote, and he grinned and gave me a big thumbs-up sign, happy that I was voting. I wished him good luck, and that was it.
I was surprised how deeply sad I felt at reading of his death online on Friday. It wasn't just because he is a liberal and there are so few of us left, and it wasn't just because he was a man of true conviction. It was because, despite not having taken a class from him, I really felt his presence when I was at Carleton, and I grieved at the loss of such a kind man. I hope the crash was quick and that he did not suffer. I have been telling all of my students (middle school kids) about him, and I hope that his legacy lives on.
— Laura Matheny '91
October 30, 2002: I will always be proud that the first vote I ever cast was for Paul Wellstone in 1990. Even though I left Minnesota after graduation, I have always looked to him as "my" Senator. As a Carl, as a one-time Minnesotan and as an American, I could not have been prouder of Paul Welllstone...and still am. For friends in Minnesota, please know that folks all over the country are standing with you in your grief. — Liz Keyes '94
October 30, 2002: I had many exceptional professors and classes at Carleton, but Paul Wellstone's were among the first. They were the ones that completely dislodged my understanding of the world and made poverty, racism, power and social injustice realities for me that I am forever accountable to. They laid the foundation for the rest of my education.
I still have the syllabus from Paul's Fall 1988 introductory political science class. It contains the following statement: "Requirements that are unyielding: a personal commitment to and active participation in the class...". He expected it of us and he gave no less himself. Years after Carleton, I realize how extraordinary that was. (And how very Carleton.)
I took Wellstone classes throughout my second year. How I think about things has of course been shaped by other influences since then, but the fundamental impact of those classes and of Wellstone himself has been beyond description. I am a political science graduate student now in large part because Paul represents to me a best-case scenario for who I can imagine being someday.
The one thought I turn to for consolation right now is this one: I am reminded, by people here in California who never met Paul but thought of him as "THE Senator" as well as by fellow Carls who experienced his classes (directly or indirectly), that because of who Paul was, how he lived and how he taught, his influence remains a living force. And this calls me to rededicate myself to what I learned from him.
— Molly Patterson '91
October 30, 2002: I had a political science from Professor Wellstone in 1991, though without looking at my transcript, I can't remember the name of the course. I think that the thing that I remembered most about Paul (no one called him 'Professor Wellstone') was his passion about injustice. We saw a videotape of the conditions in public hospitals in New York City, which were not good. Paul was outraged, and demanded of students that they explain how such a thing could happen in a supposedly advanced society. His outrage was contagious.
I don't know if Paul was still outraged at the end of his life, because I hadn't spoken with him for a long time. My mother, who runs a network of food banks, and is my hero, met him at least once in Washington. He was a friend to causes like hers, to help the poor. Like Paul, my mother was a 60's radical who has turned from outrage and protest to working to change the system, and to make sure that those left behind by the system are helped when they need it.
Paul was not a very good teacher. This is what some students, particularly those of a conservative bent, said about him. He did not stick strictly to the curriculum that was set for the course that I took from him, and I am guessing that he was similarly free-spirited about the curriculi from the other courses he taught. But just as a well-taught curriculum can make a good teacher, so too can the enthusiasm, experience, and energy of someone intimately involved in the subject being taught. At the time, Paul was Minnesota state chairman of Jesse Jackson's campaign, and his explanations of what politics were about, and how they were conducted were lessons that only he could have taught. Certainly, some of his lessons were more like speeches, but this was usually his passion for a certain topic asserting itself, and actually made him very good teacher, in a way that only he could have been.
I saw the news on my mobile phone in Japan, where I am living. I was sad not as a student of Paul's and someone who had really gotten something from his lessons, nor as a former constituent, but as someone who knew him as a person and grieves for him as a human being who died far before he needed to. His lessons taught me that politics was very human, and that those involved equally human. Paul was definitely that, and I grieve for the human potential that was lost in this tragic accident.
Paul Wellstone was a good teacher, a good man, and a human being, and I will miss him.
— Nik Frengle '92
October 30, 2002: Paul Wellstone was a force for social change on the Carleton campus--I remember his involvement in a group who studied the book, "Living the Good Life," by Helen and Scott Nearing.
My focus on the sciences deprived me of the chance to experience his teachings first hand. The book by the Nearings did, however, become central to my experiences and my life choices in the 70's and the 80's.
Thanks to the Wellstones for speaking passionately in favor of the potential for the good life. Thank you Carleton for instilling in us the desire to make sense of the intellectual primordial soup, and thanks to everyone who takes action, reaching out to write, to speak, to teach what they have learned.
— Scott Parsons '72
October 30, 2002: My closest path to Paul Wellstone led from a woodpile in Moose Lake to his garage in St. Paul on a November past. Invited and urged to the task by my fellow classmate — one of the Senator's most devoted followers — this simple task just seemed the right thing to do as we gathered, loaded, drove, unloaded, and stacked a measure of warmth for the future. It was of no matter that no one was at home, nor asked for the chore, nor that I had traveled 1,500 miles for a weekend lark: gathering the wood, and bringing it home with my friend, has always been my memory of that time.
And so it will be that Paul Wellstone — and his loved ones — will not have passed on in order to be reckoned. My school has enabled — and not easily at some times — the completion of a higher expression to which most of us could only aspire: because of Paul Wellstone. With that measure, Paul Wellstone did not die without completing his mission. The extent to which he stands tall in Carleton's pantheon is attested by those students and administration alike who, faced with his challenges, came away the better for responding to his call straightforward as laying in a cord of wood.
— Ed Numrich '62
October 29, 2002: I never met Paul Wellstone in person. He arrived at Carleton College to teach in fall 1969, and I had left as a student earlier that year. However, I had the pleasure of editing one of his books for the University of Massachusetts Press in 1981.
I've edited enough manuscripts that the volumes would fill at least one tall set of bookshelves. All of the material has been interesting, much of it wonderful. A few books stand out from that collection as extraordinary. One of them is "Powerline: The First Battle of America's Energy War," by Barry M. Casper and Paul David Wellstone. The book itself is a fine piece of work: solid scholarship, readable, and humane.
But "best" refers not only to the product but to the process by which it came into being. Paul Wellstone and Barry Casper were delightful to work with. Their goal was excellence. They did their job well and they let me do mine the same way. A friend and fellow editor to whom I mentioned this in an e-mail on Friday evening, while I was struggling to accept, if not comprehend, Wellstone's death, wrote back: "I don't know anything about him except that if his book was one of the best you've worked on, that's enormous praise and implies a tremendous loss."
After working on the book, I always felt better knowing Paul Wellstone was one of us humans. I recently sent a contribution to his campaign, because the current elected politicians in my own state do not acknowledge my expressed opinions, much less represent me. My act was one small instance of ìspeaking truth to power,î as Paul Wellstoneís way of living embodied.
May we all carry forward portions of his spirit and legacy.
— Deborah Robson (class of '70, attended Carleton '66-'69)
October 29, 2002: Early in my sophomore year at Carleton (fall 1988) I took my one class from Paul Wellstone. It was team taught by Paul and Mike Casper and it was called something along the lines of "Politics and the Media". An underlying current to the class was whether a political unknown could use alternative forms of media (local access cable TV back then) to run a low budget grassroots campaign for higher office and win the election. When he did just that a year later, I felt like I'd been one of the lucky few to glimpse history in the making. I was always proud to vote for him. He made me believe that unlikely people can accomplish extraordinary things. I will miss him.— Lorna Janus Wilson '91
October 29, 2002: I thought I was a radical liberal...then I took Paul Wellstone's Introduction to Political Science class. In actuality, I was a still naive, sheltered college junior at the time. Paul's class introduced me to a whole new way of thinking about politics in our country and showed me how political decisions affect all of our lives on a daily basis. And, as anyone who was at Carleton while Paul Wellstone taught there knows, Paul did not just talk about politics in the classroom. Paul lived his politics every day in the college community. I recall Paul frequently standing with the students in disagreements with the administration. In retrospect, I realize what a lucky and unique experience we had in seeing someone who so passionately and bravely stood up for his beliefs.
I have been surprised at how profound my sadness has been since hearing of the tragic plane crash. In part, my sadness stems from the Carleton connection. Regardless of politics, I think that everyone affiliated with Carleton felt a sense of pride in Paul Wellstone's innovative campaign and exciting Senate victory twelve years ago. However, even if I had not had the good fortune to sit in a classroom with Paul Wellstone, I think I would be equally sad. I fear that, in the remainder of my lifetime, I will never see another politician with such integrity.
I now live and work in New Hampshire. I ran into Paul Wellstone two years ago when he was here campaigning for Bill Bradley. I went out to the town square to hear Mr. Bradley speak and suddenly realized that I was standing next to Senator Wellstone. I re-introduced myself and told him that I had been in one of his classes many years earlier. He was sincerely pleased to learn that I had become a Public Defender.
I was just in Minnesota a few weeks ago. My dear friend, Dawn Messerly, and I talked about Paul's current race. As Dawn wrote to me today, "He was such a significant part of how I saw the identity of Minnesota."
I was proud that Paul Wellstone was part of the identity of Carleton College. I was proud to have lived in Minnesota for even four years because Paul Wellstone was a part of the identity of Minnesota. I was proud of our democracy because Paul Wellstone stood so tall in our Senate.
To the family of Paul, Sheila and Marcia and the families of Paul's campaign aides and the pilots on his flight, I can only say that thousands of us share your grief.
— Jessica Brown '91
October 29, 2002: I was lucky enough to take a class taught by Paul Wellstone at Carleton in 1989, and I loved it. I loved the energy and enthusiasm that he brought to the classroom everyday, an energy and enthusiasm which rubbed off on me and every student in the room. I felt energized by his class, and felt that this was exactly what college was supposed to be like -- an exhilarating exchange of ideas.
When he ran for (and won) his Senate seat, everyone I knew at Carleton felt like he was running just for them. That was his gift as a politician — he made everyone feel like he was representing them explicitly, which he was.
After graduation, I watched his Senate career from a distance, proud every time he took a principled stand whether or not he agreed with me, proud every time he shook up the status quo and made those around him question the things they had always believed. He was able to keep his idealism intact and fight for the things *he* believed, and in doing so he was forcing others to open their eyes to what was going on around them. It was the same thing he had done for me as a student: forcing people to grow, and to realize that growth isn't always pleasant, but it is always rewarding.
I'm saddened by his death, the deaths of his wife and daughter, and the deaths of his campaign workers and pilots. Carleton, Minnesota, and the United States have lost a great teacher, a tremendous Senator and a wonderful person.
— Christian Ruzich '92
October 29, 2002: I was a student in Paul Wellstone's State Politics class in 1989. That was during my more conservative years. Paul, the name he encouraged his students to call him, conducted classes in the bus on the way to the State Capitol. He was passionate about his beliefs, and very kind toward my more conservative views at the same time. The small group in the class got Paul's personal attention in getting internships, attending important hearings in the House and Senate, and getting to know Minnesota's political climate. It was amazing the amount of work he put into that class. He was uniquely qualified to teach it, and I'm not sure if Carleton has been able offer a course quite like it since. It was my pleasure as a Minnesotan to vote for him in 1990. His commitment to working for the people was as obvious in his campaign as it was in the classroom - that mattered more to me that his stand on specific issues where I may have differed with him.
A couple months ago I almost ran right into him in the Minneapolis airport. As we passed one another, I blurted out, "Paul!", not Senator, not Mr. Wellstone, just Paul. He remembered me and asked how I was doing. It was brief, but I thought about writing him afterward and thanking him for the job he was doing for me as a US citizen, no longer a Minnesota resident.
I've heard him over the years on NPR, and The News Hour, working on issues, sometimes when he's the only one in the Senate who would make such a stand. Our country needs that kind of courage in its leadership, especially now.
He will be sorely missed.
— Marc Schwartz '91
October 29, 2002: A letter to the editor in The New York Times—Re "Paul Wellstone, 58, Icon of Liberalism in Senate" (obituary, Oct. 26):
Paul Wellstone was my colleague at Carleton College for 18 years. I am now president emeritus of Skidmore College and a classicist, and Paul constantly reminded me of Socrates. Like Socrates, Paul loved asking questions, making people think; readily admitted what he didn't know, never stopped learning; and was absolutely committed to doing what he thought right, even when this entailed taking unpopular—and politically hazardous—positions.
Like any gadfly, Paul made some people uncomfortable; indeed, he saw that as part of his mission. But even those who disagreed with him responded to his humor, warmth, honesty and courage.
I grieve for Paul and his family, and for our country; today, more than ever, we need people like Paul among our leaders.
—David H. Porter, former professor of classical languages and president of Carleton .
October 29, 2002: A letter to the editor in the Star Tribune—As a former student of the late senator at Carleton College, I wish to express my sincere condolences for the shocking loss of Paul, Sheila and Marcia Wellstone. The senator, whom I lovingly remember as Paul, influenced me to care deeply about my community and the larger world and to try to do my part to help.
While a student in his urban politics class, he and I engaged in a heated discussion right at the end of a Wednesday session. The next class was scheduled for Friday, which happened to be Good Friday. I decided to skip class, anticipating a holiday weekend and thinking Wellstone had long forgotten the discussion and would be on his way to celebrate Passover. Of course he showed up in class and bellowed, "Where is that SOB, Lynch?" Needless to say my classmates transmitted this message and I was equally embarrassed and amazed at his passion to continue an argument with an opinionated, punk 19-year-old black student from Chicago.
At this point, all I can do is offer to share the healing power of my higher power to Mark and David as we continue the journey, armed with the love and spirit of their parents and sister.
— Lynch Rodonald Travis '77
October 28, 2002: I was just eighteen years old in May 1970 when I got myself arrested with Paul Wellstone, then a twenty-six year old untenured professor of government at Carleton College. We—eighty-six other students, and the college chaplain—were blocking the doors of the Old Federal Building in downtown St. Paul. For a few hours this act of civil disobedience delayed the induction into the army of hundreds of young men, most of them the sons of Minnesota’s rural poor. They were going off to fight a war. We were getting our college degrees from one of the best liberal arts colleges in the country. After a three-day trial, we were convicted of a federal misdemeanor and fined $50 or three days in jail. I chose to pay the fine, and was never arrested again. I can’t remember, but Paul probably chose to pay the fine as well.
Unlike the students, he had a lot to lose. Just a year earlier, he had received his PhD. from the University of North Carolina. Carleton was his first teaching job. He had two young kids at the time and no job security. Getting arrested was not a good career move. Indeed, just four years later, Carleton would deny Paul tenure. Paul’s students fought the tenure decision, and he eventually won an extraordinarily rare reversal.
In subsequent years, he was arrested again in other acts of civil disobedience on behalf of bankrupt farmers and numerous other causes. On another occasion, Wellstone and a group of his students staged a sit-in against the trustees to protest apartheid in South Africa. But for me it is that first arrest that explains something fundamental about Wellstone’s political odyssey.
Looking back now, I have to ask myself, why was he first arrested in May 1970? That was, after all, pretty late for those young men in the 1960s who were caught up in the political turmoil of those years. Wellstone got his B.A. in 1965, so his college years included some of the most tumultuous years of the civil rights movement and the beginnings of the anti-war movement. He wrote his doctoral thesis on the civil rights movement—but he was not himself an activist until he came to Minnesota.
By May 1970—when Richard Nixon invaded Cambodia—one has to remember how polarized the country had become. Otherwise sensible, middle-class kids were thinking crazy things. After the Kent State killings on May 4th, Carleton and hundreds of other colleges went on strike. I remember some Carleton students talked of organizing classes on how to build Molotov cocktails. This was lunacy, of course, and most of us understood this. Down that road lay the senseless violence of the Weathermen.
But we knew we had to do something, and when a few of us—my roommates Ed Putz and Kit O’Donohue, among others—suggested blocking the doors of the main draft induction center in the Twin Cities, the idea quickly caught on.
Wellstone and the college chaplain were the only two faculty members to join us. Looking back, I think Paul got arrested as an expression of simple decency. In the charged atmosphere of those years, getting arrested in a gentle act of civil disobedience was a conservative act. He felt compelled to join us. What the Nixon-Kissinger regime was doing that year was bloody outrageous, prolonging an unjust and unwinnable war for sheer political expediency. Like all of our professors, Paul was anti-war. But he wasn’t an angry young man. And he certainly wasn’t any kind of sectarian leftist. In many ways, he was very mainstream. The son of Russian immigrants, a guy who went to college on a wrestling scholarship, he was proudly living the American dream. He was an optimist, an open-hearted idealist about individual people—even his political opponents—and about America at large; he knew the war was wrong and that it had to be opposed. But unlike the fringe leftists that the media loved to put on television, he didn’t ever blame the country for the war.
Long before the war finally ended in 1975, Wellstone was using Saul Alinsky’s tactics to organize welfare mothers in southern Minnesota. In an age before video cameras, he asked his students to teach welfare moms to use 8mm movie cameras—so that when they went down to the courthouse they could intimidate the county welfare board officials by filming the debate. Paul knew this was a "flashy tactic," but he also understood that we live in a media society, so he told the welfare moms that this would get the attention of the welfare board. (During his tenure fight, Carleton’s administration was confronted with the odd spectacle of these same welfare moms demonstrating on behalf of their friend, the college professor.) He used the same flashy tactics in his self-deprecating television commercials to get himself elected to the Senate in 1990.
Wellstone certainly wasn’t a Hubert Humphery/Walter Mondale liberal—but neither was he a New Left radical. He didn’t carry any of this worn-out political baggage. The pundits are also wrong to describe him as a rare, old-fashioned Democrat. Wellstone’s politics are the future, not the past, of the Democratic Party. Public financing of elections. Single-payer, universal health insurance. Progressive tax reform. Government investment in the education of the poor. A reasonably small, post-Cold War defense budget. A foreign policy based on international law. These are sensible positions that can appeal to many mainstream Americans. Wellstone’s career also demonstrates that we don’t have to give up on the system; indeed, the Democratic Party is an empty shell, ready to be seized by people willing to stand for something real.
He gave me hope when I was an angry young man of eighteen. And while I am angry with the Gods of fate for killing him, I still think his life points to the possibilities ahead.
— Kai Bird '73
October 25, 2002: This news makes me very sad.
I also have some fond and amusing memories of Paul's Poli Sci. 10 class, which always seemed more like a rally than a lecture.
I remember never being in danger of having to sit in the front row, because those seats were always eagerly occupied by the Young Republicans on one side waiting to tear into him, and a bevy of Paul-groupies (in my hazy memory mostly women) on the other side lapping up every word.
Whenever I picture Paul, it is always in a very tight T-Shirt which emphasized his very muscular arms which he used to great effect while speaking. He was an impressive leader on campus and generally an optimistic and inspiring presence. I relished seeing glimpses of him on TV, imagining him stirring things up in the Senate.
He'll be sorely missed.
— Rob Roe '88
October 25, 2002: When I came to Carleton in 1978, I took Poli Sci 10 fall term that year. I soon came to call that class the "Paul Wellstone Jumping Up and Down" hour. He was SO passionate about his beliefs. However, I also remember he was very fair.
I voted for him twice for Senate, and I was ready to vote a third time, even though I didn't agree with all of his views. At least I could count on him to stand up for his beliefs and speak up, no matter what the possible cost.
Maybe the College could see fit to finally make him a full professor now, if that is the kind of thing which can be done posthumously. As I recall, he never made the rank of full professor (no doubt partly because of his tenacious nature and strong beliefs), even though he was at Carleton for something like 20 years.
— Mary Jill Duncan '82
October 25, 2002: As a Minnesota resident, I'm mourning my senator's tragic death. He was the only politician I ever voted for with a totally clear conscience and a straight face. — Pamela Espeland '73
October 25, 2002: I'm sure the comments will come flying in on today's tragedy. Here's one more small voice. According to published reports, Paul, Sheila and Marcia Wellstone died today in a plane crash near Eveleth.
Paul Wellstone was perhaps the most passionate, earnest and dedicated political activist I have ever known. Paul and I had very different ideas as to what "political science" is all about, and very different political outlooks. But I had high regard and great respect for his commitment to what he believed was right and good and honest. Paul and Sheila were an important part of what makes Carleton great.
Minnesota and the nation have lost a great populist voice today. My heart goes out to the rest of the Wellstone family.
— Brian Sala '86
October 25, 2002: I was so saddened to hear the news of Paul Wellstone's tragic death this afternoon in Northern Minnesota. He was a champion of the underdog in a world where political expediency often runs over human values.
He will be greatly missed by a great many people. I hope the Carleton community can do something wonderful in his, and his wife's, honor.
— Michael Philipson '79
October 25, 2002: Carleton is celebrating the inauguration of Rob Oden as its new president today. This makes for a horrible development on what was a day of renewal for the College and is now a day of grief. As a native of unionist Virginia, MN and a child raised by a populist and radical father, I naturally had a great deal of affection for Paul Wellstone. As a student here when he was first elected, I remember how exciting the whole spectacle was. When my wife, Ann, my two kids (at the time, we now have three), and I visited Wellstone's office about three and a half years ago, Senator Wellstone came out of his office to talk with us and talk about Carleton and how things were doing in Northfield. It turns out that it was his 55th birthday on that day. He brought us into his actual office, gave us a tour of the artifacts that had accumulated in his office since he had become a Senator, took a couple pictures with us, and joked around with us and the kids before having to leave for another meeting for which he told us he was already 15 minutes late. He was so good to us as unannounced visitors. I'll never forget how kind he was to us on that day. He didn't need to be, but he was. He was not slick; he was smart, and I loved what he said for those who got no credit in this country. So, there are no more progressives in the Senate? Where does this leave the country?
— Brendon Etter '92
October 25, 2002: I wish I could've been at Carleton today to honor the Wellstones. I just heard about his death on CNN, shocking patients, staff and families alike when I gasped a breath in and then burst into tears. I am in Montana because of choosing a graduate school that would nurture my flavor of environmental and political activity; I realized that I could be politically active when Paul simultaneously cradled, pushed, demanded and underpinned me. Few people have influenced me so strongly to work for what I believe in while insisting that my values be translated into realistic, smart, effective actions and discourse. Although I have long since left Minnesota, I grieve that it and the nation have lost a person I consider to be a champion, and a man I just plain liked as I admired him. I bear witness to this loss with all the other Carls who appreciated him, wherever we may be.— Katie MacMillen '84