Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

Lester Mondale, noted humanist, circles of inspiration…from Missouri to the Galaxy

Lester Mondale
R. Lester Mondale
(May 28, 1904 to August 19, 2003)

"I feel most truly myself,
And at home in a universe of
Living things and
Galaxy-strewn skies
About which the half
Has never been told
And, perhaps,
Never will be told."

Lester Mondale, a man with big vision, lived a big-hearted life. Father of Karen Mondale (read poem "He would tell you he never was an artist," Karen's tribute to her father) and brother of Walter Mondale.

Lester Mondale was also an author, mostly of philosophical/religious/scholarly books. His 3-room study/workshop burned down in May, 2007, which was a terrible thing for our family because it contained many family pictures and records, all his Harvard papers, his sermons, his correspondences with notably historical figures of the 20th century. All gone - nothing left but ruined metal and ash.

This is Lester Mondale's obituary from the American Humanist Association:

R. Lester Mondale of Fredricktown, Missouri died on August 19, 2003, he was ninety-nine years old. Mondale was the last living signer of Humanist Manifesto I (he was the youngest to sign in 1933). He was also the only person to sign all three manifestos.

An AHA member perhaps since the organization's founding, he received the AHA's Humanist Pioneer award in 1973 and the Humanist Founder award in 2001. Mondale became a Unitarian minister after being raised a Methodist.

He was very active with the American Humanist Association, the American Ethical Union and served as president of the Fellowship of Religious Humanists in the 60's and 70's. Humanists Vice President Sarah Oelberg says that Mondale's death marks "truly the end of an era" and AHA Director of Planned Giving Bette Chambers calls him "a great man, a great Humanist."

Lester is survived by his wife, Rosemary, and four daughters: Karen Mondale of St. Louis, Missouri; Julia Jensen of St. Cloud, Minnesota; Tarrie Swenstad of Odin, Minnesota; and Ellen Mondale of Bethesda, Maryland. Also surviving him are his three brothers: Walter Mondale, former vice president of the United States, Pete Mondale, and Morton Mondale. Lester Mondale was also a proud grandparent of seven and a great-grandparent.

copyright 2008 by Karen Mondale

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1 Responses »

  1. Thank you for telling us about Lester Mondale. We need to know about such men, who travel a loftier path than most of us do.

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