Sen. Paul Wellstone, 1944-2002
Minnesota Democrat Was Leading Liberal Voice on Capitol Hill
Listen to Minnesota Public Radio's Tom Shreck report on Tuesday's memorial service for Sen. Paul Wellstone.
Listen to NPR's Madeleine Brand, David Welna and Cheryl Corley describe reaction to the loss of Sen. Paul Wellstone.
Listen to NPR's David Welna and Brian Naylor report on Sen. Wellstone's life and untimely death.
Oct. 25, 2002 -- Sen. Paul Wellstone was killed Friday in a charter jet crash that also took the lives of his wife, Sheila, daughter Marcia, three political aides and the plane's two pilots. Wellstone was 58.
Over the past decade, the Minnesota Democrat evolved from a college professor little known on the national stage to one of the Senate's top liberal voices. He briefly harbored visions of a presidential run.
Paul David Wellstone was born July 21, 1944, the son of immigrant Russian Jews. He grew up in Virginia and moved to Minnesota in 1970. He came to the Senate in 1991 directly from Carleton College, where he taught political science. He ran a classic grassroots campaign, building on his success as a community organizer and racing through the state in a green school bus. Viewed as a major underdog, Wellstone tapped into Minnesota's rich vein of populism and liberalism and became the only challenger to beat an incumbent senator that year.
Wellstone's time in the Senate was marked by devotion to liberal causes, including work on affordable health care, family leave, and a new farm bill. He voted against the Iraq resolution this year. In 1995 he tested presidential waters in the New Hampshire primary. Wellstone was a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, the Senate Committee on Veteran's Affairs, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He co-authored successful legislation on health care, mental health treatment, and veteran's affairs.
In February, Wellstone revealed that he had been diagnosed 15 years earlier with what he called a mild case of multiple sclerosis. The health issue did not deter him from politics, and he was involved in a tight re-election battle this fall with Republican Norm Coleman, the former mayor of St. Paul, Minn.
Raised in Arlington, Va., in the shadow of the nation's capital, Wellstone starred as a college wrestler at the University of North Carolina. He earned his bachelor's degree there and later a doctorate in political science.
He moved on to Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., where he taught political science for 21 years before entering the political arena himself.
Paul and Sheila Wellstone were married in 1963 and in recent years had made their home in St. Paul while commuting to Washington, D.C., during Senate sessions. They are survived by two sons and six grandchildren.
Join an online discussion on the death of Sen. Wellstone.
Hear Robert Siegel's report on the close Senate race in Minnesota, from the Oct. 21, 2002, All Things Considered.
Hear Juan Williams' report on Wellstone and the Minnesota senate race, from the Aug. 2, 2002, Morning Edition.
Hear Bob Edwards' interview with Sen. Wellstone, from the Jan. 30, 1997, Morning Edition.
Search for more NPR reports on Sen. Paul Wellstone.
Paul Wellstone's Senate Web site.
Sen. Wellstone's campaign Web site.
Minnesota Public Radio Web site, with additional coverage.