Advocates Mourn Death Of Civil Rights Champion Wellstone
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 28, 2002
ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA--Americans across the country are mourning the deaths of Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone, his wife Sheila, and their daughter Marcia, who died Friday in an airplane crash in northern Minnesota. The plane's pilot and co-pilot, along with three of Wellstone's staff aides, also perished in the accident, which took place between re-election campaign stops.
Wellstone, 58, considered by colleagues as a liberal "warrior", had championed many causes related to civil rights and health care since he took office in 1991.
In February of this year, Wellstone announced that he had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, but that he would continue his re-election campaign. "I have a strong mind -- although there are some that might disagree about that -- I have a strong body, I have a strong heart, I have a strong soul," he told reporters.
Previously, Wellstone also said that he had a learning disability that required him to study harder and take more time to learn in school. Because of this, as a senator he opposed measures that emphasized standardized test scores.
"Sen. Wellstone was a strong advocate for people with disabilities including people with multiple sclerosis," the National Multiple Sclerosis Society said in an on-line statement. "He frequently sponsored or co-sponsored legislation that would benefit people with disabilities and people in poverty."
"Senator Wellstone was a great advocate for people with disabilities and their families," said Linda Warner, Chair of the Epilepsy Foundation in a press statement. "His leadership in pursuing mental health parity legislation is an example of the ways he championed health care for all Americans."
Wellstone considered running for the presidency in 2000, but finally decided against it, saying a back injury would prevent him from effectively running the campaign.
The Minnesota Democrat and his wife are survived by their two sons and six grandchildren.