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Political dignitaries, family gather in memorial service for Joan Mondale in Minneapolis

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MINNEAPOLIS - Political dignitaries joined family members at Saturday's memorial service for Joan Mondale, the wife of a former vice-president who wasn't shy about stepping out on her own.

Vice-President Joe Biden, former President Jimmy Carter and their spouses were at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis to pay tribute to Mondale, who died Monday at age 83 after an extended illness. Leading Minnesota officials and Japan's consul general were also at the service, which began about 12:30 p.m.

Mondale leveraged the political prominence of her husband, Walter Mondale, to focus national attention on arts and culture. He was vice-president in the 1970s, a Democratic nominee for president in the 1980s and an ambassador to Japan in the 1990s.

Biden praised not only Joan Mondale's commitment to the arts, but also her activism.

"She pushed just as hard for equal pay for women when no one talked about it. ... She was incredibly supportive of the first woman nominee that you first put on the ticket, Fritz," Biden said, looking at Walter Mondale. "Joan was as vocal and as present and as consistent on those aspects of people's lives ... as she seemed to be about art."

Biden also spoke of his friendship with the Mondales, which began in 1972. He noted that he had just lost his wife and daughter in a car accident before arriving in the U.S. Senate, where he was welcomed by Joan and Walter Mondale.

"You weren't just saying the right things. You embraced me. You included me. You brought me in," he said.

Joan Mondale is survived by her husband and two sons, William and Ted.

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