U.S. Vice President
Walter Frederick ("Fritz") Mondale was born in Ceylon, Minnesota on Jan. 5, 1928, the son of Theodore Sigvaard Mondale and Claribel Cowan Mondale. He spent his boyhood in the small towns of southern Minnesota, where he attended public schools. After he helped manage Hubert H. Humphrey's first successful U.S. Senate campaign in 1948, he earned his B.A. in political science from the University of Minnesota in 1951. After completing service as a corporal in the U.S. Army, Mondale received his LL.B (cum laude) from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1956, having served on the law review and as a law clerk in the Minnesota Supreme Court.
Mondale practiced law for the next four years in Minneapolis. In 1960, Minnesota Gov. Orville Freeman appointed him to the position of state attorney general. Mondale was then elected to the office in 1962, and served until 1964, when Gov. Karl Rolvaag asked him to fill the U.S. Senate vacancy create by Hubert Humphrey's election to the vice presidency. The voters of Minnesota returned Mondale to the Senate in 1966 and 1972.
During his 12 years as a senator, Mondale served on the Finance Committee, the Labor and Public Welfare Committee, Budget Committee, and the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. He also served as the chairman of the Select Committee on Equal Education Opportunity and as the chairman of the Intelligence Committee's Domestic Task Force.
Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale were elected president and vice president of the United States on Nov. 2, 1976. On the president's behalf, Mondale traveled extensively throughout the nation and the world advocating U.S. policy. He was the first vice president to have an office in the White House, and he served as a full-time participant, advisor, and troubleshooter for the administration. During this period, Joan Mondale served as a national advocate for the arts and was Honorary Chairman of the Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities.
In 1984, Mondale was the Democratic Party's nominee for president of the United States. He lost to President Ronald Reagan. Since that election, Mondale has been practicing law, teaching, studying, traveling, and serving as a director of both non-profit and corporate boards. He returned to his native Minnesota in 1987, where he has been practicing law as a partner with the firm of Dorsey Whitney.
Until his appointment as U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Walter Mondale was a Distinguished University Fellow in Law and Public Affairs at the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota. In 1990, Mondale established the Mondale Policy Forum at the Humphrey Institute. The forum has brought together leading scholars and policymakers for annual conferences on domestic and international issues. For 1992-93, the forum's theme was the "The Challenge of Social Justice in a Global Economy."
From 1986-93, Mondale was chairman of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, an organization that conducts non-partisan international programs to help maintain and strengthen democratic institutions. In that capacity, he has co-led delegations to Poland and Hungary.
Mondale has also served on the executive committee of the Peace Prize Forum, an annual conference co-sponsored by the Norwegian Nobel Institute and five Midwestern colleges of Norwegian heritage. Former President Jimmy Carter, former Costa Rican President Oscar Arias Sanchez, Nobel laureate and author Elie Wiesel, Dr. Yelena Bonner, and Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug have been among the featured speakers.
In spring 1993, Mondale was elected a director of the Council on Foreign Relations. Other non-profit boards of directors on which he served until his appointment as ambassador include the Guthrie Theatre Foundation, Mayo Foundation, National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, Rand Corporation, and University of Minnesota Foundation. His recent corporate board memberships included BlackRock Advantage Term Trust and other BlackRock Mutual Funds, Cargill Incorporated, CNA Financial Corporation, the Encyclopaedia Britannica, First Financial Fund and other Prudential Mutual Funds, Northwest Airlines, and Untied HealthCare Corporation.
Mondale was sworn in as U.S. ambassador to Japan on Aug. 13, 1993. He had been nominated by President Clinton on June 11, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on July 30. The former vice president succeeded Michael H. Armacost, who had been ambassador to Tokyo since 1989. Mondale completed his service in that role in December, 1997. He returned to his Minnesota home and rejoined the law firm of Dorsey Whitney as a partner.
In March, 1998, Mondale traveled to Jakarta as President Clinton's personal representative for discussions with President Soeharto and other Indonesian officials on the financial situation facing that country.
Mondale is married to the former Joan Adams. They have three children: Theodore, Eleanor Jane, and William.
Mondale has authored the book The Accountability of Power: Toward a Responsible Presidency and has written numerous articles on domestic and international issues. In his free time, he enjoys fishing, reading Shakespeare and historical accounts, barbecuing, skiing, and tennis.