Walter Mondale Dead

( Walter F. Mondale, the vice president under Jimmy Carter, died on Monday. He was 93 years old and passed away at home in Minneapolis.

A spokeswoman for the Mondales, Kathy Tunheim, announced the former vice president’s death, but she didn’t reveal a cause.

Mondale seemed to be preparing for his life to end in recent days, though. Over the weekend, Mondale spoke one last time with Carter as well as President Joe Biden and his wife Jill, and Vice President Kamala Harris.

Mondale also sent a farewell email to all of his former staff members.

Fritz, as he was widely known in Washington, began his life in public service in his home state of Minnesota. He was fortunate to learn under one of the state’s biggest progressives, Hubert H. Humphrey.

As vice president to Carter from 1977 to 1981, he served as the first person in his position who was considered to be a partner of the president, according to a New York Times obituary. Mondale was given full access to all intelligence briefings, had a lunch with Carter weekly, had a staff of his own that was integrated with the president’s and even had an office located near Carter’s in the White House.

Following the announcement of Mondale’s passing, Carter released a statement that expressed grief over the passing of “my dear friend.” He said:

“Fritz used his political skill and personal integrity to transform the vice presidency into a dynamic, policy-driving force that had never been seen before”

Biden himself considered Mondale to be a guiding force in politics for him. When Barack Obama picked Biden to be his vice president in 2008, his first calls was to Fritz.

Biden said Mondale redefined the position of vice president “as a full partnership” with the president, and that had “helped provide a model for my service.”

Following his term as vice president, Mondale himself ran for president. In 1984, though, he lost in a landslide to eventual President Ronald Reagan.

Still, Mondale is known for breaking ground with that candidacy. He was the first candidate of a major national ticket to select a woman as his vice president — New York Representative Geraldine A. Ferraro.

That’s another comparison that can be made between Fritz and Biden, whose vice president, Harris, is the first woman to serve in the role.

Biden and Mondale have similar mindsets, looking to fight in progressive ways for minorities, women and the poor. Speaking to the Times in 2010 for their obituary of him, Mondale said of his political ideals:

“I’m a liberal or a progressive. I didn’t use the ‘liberal work much, because I thought it carried too much baggage. But my whole life, I worked on the idea that government can be an instrument for social progress. We need that progress. Fairness requires it.”

He began that work representing Minnesota in the U.S. Senate, where he served for 12 years. Among the policies he pursued were school aid, support for civil rights, consumer protection, and the expansion of child care and health care in general.