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National NOW Times >> Fall 2002 >> Article

In Memoriam: Paul and Sheila Wellstone

The U.S. lost two of its most dedicated patriots this fall. No one loved this country and its spirit and diversity more than Sheila and Paul Wellstone, who died in a plane crash on Oct. 25, 2002. Sen. Wellstone, D-Minn., was often the sole voice for women, children, the disadvantaged and disheartened, always speaking out for those who had no voice in the halls of Congress or other corridors of elite power. He was singularly determined to use his wit, charm and political acumen to advance the rights and support the dignity of every individual.

Sheila Wellstone, Paul's greatest resource and strength, dedicated her time and energy to eradicating violence and sexual assault from the lives of children, women and families.

Paul and Sheila Wellstone leave behind a safer, more secure world because of their courage and perseverance. They will be remembered by millions of fans and admirers and they leave a legacy of deep and abiding love for the United States through their unwavering public service, unflagging spirit, deep respect for the dignity of people, and their core belief that everyone deserves a fair chance.

Throughout his two terms, Paul Wellstone was a giant in the Senate. He championed initiatives to help poor women confront the violence and abuse in their lives; he demanded that mental illness be addressed fully and fairly by the health care system; he insisted that training and education be made available to low income families as a real path out of poverty. The billions of dollars recently re-authorized for the Violence Against Women Act are part of his bequest. He believed so deeply in the fruits of peace that he was willing to risk his reelection and political career with his recent vote against the Iraq war resolution.

NOW members everywhere are in shock and in mourning, but nonetheless determined to renew our spirits in honor of Paul and Sheila Wellstone and use that energy to bring to this country a new awakening and a new dedication that will do justice to their memory.

Personal Tributes to the Wellstones

"Paul Wellstone was living proof that good things come in small packages. His dedication to helping those who could not help themselves or were voiceless was legendary. His willingness to stand up for what he believed — even if it was contrary to national or presidential opinion—made him, truly, a man of AND for the people. And at his side, sharing his beliefs and his dedication to humanity, was his beloved wife/partner in all senses of the word, Sheila. I am thankful that, at least, they were together even to the very end. I can only hope that when they arrived in Heaven, Patsy Mink was at the gates to greet them, and lead them over to the feminist/activist clouds where Bella, Barbara Jordan, Ginny Montes, Faith Evans, and so many of the good fighters are."
— Rhoda M. Bradshaw, South Bend, Ind.

"I was fortunate enough to hear Senator Wellstone speak in a hearing this summer concerning violence against women and the workplace. The only Senator present for the majority of the hearing, Senator Wellstone's attention and expression showed his enormous concern and empathy for women who are victims of violence, and his incredible dedication to ending that violence. America has lost a courageous and compassionate leader."
— Sharyn Rothstein, Avon, Conn.

"Paul was such a fighter for civil rights, women's rights, and health care for the masses. You have no idea how deeply his death reverberates. He was a genuine believer in the good of people that only some could actually see."
— Kim Datz, Atlanta, Ga.

"With Senator Wellstone's passing, the Democratic party has lost its voice of conscience in the Senate. Those of us who value peace and truly care about the welfare of our fellow human beings have lost our most loyal, courageous and passionate advocate. May we honor the memory of these two great Americans by carrying on their struggle for true dignity and equality for all people."
— Nell Corkin, Okemos, Mich.

"Because of Paul and Sheila, I have become interested and active in political happenings. Paul stood up for the very things that are near and dear to my heart. He was a huge friend of natural resources, and I believe without Paul we would have lost the battle on Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Thanks Paul and Sheila for your determination and all of the things that you both fought for!"
— Stacy Salvevold

"Twelve years ago, I was working at a small low-income housing project in Minneapolis, when this college professor who wanted to run for Congress showed up. He was fun, fast talking and believable. He bounced on his toes as he talked passionately about how everyone's voice counted. No other politician or would-be politician had ever come to this disenfranchised community before and asked the people who lived there for their ideas. I witnessed and participated in an excitement that turned into a voter registration campaign and subsequently into the upset election of Paul Wellstone to the U.S. Senate ... Paul and Sheila Wellstone made us believe that the impossible is possible."
— Sheri Smith, Saint Paul, Minn.

Read more tributes to Paul and Sheila Wellstone online.

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