Walter Mondale

official photo of Walter Mondale c. 1977, U.S. Government

Birth Name: Walter Frederick Mondale

Date of Birth: January 5, 1928

Place of Birth: Ceylon, Minnesota, U.S.

Date of Death: April 19, 2021

Place of Death: Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.

*father – Norwegian, along with remote Danish and German
*mother – Scottish, as well as English and German

Walter Mondale, nicknamed “Fritz,” was an American politician, diplomat, and lawyer. A Democrat, he served as the 42nd Vice President of the United States, from January 20, 1977 to January 20, 1981. He was elected to the position in 1976. He was previously Attorney General of Minnesota, from May 4, 1960 to December 30, 1964, and a U.S. Senator from Minnesota, from December 30, 1964 to December 30, 1976, and was later the U.S. Ambassador to Japan, from September 21, 1993 to December 15, 1996.

He was the Democratic Party’s nominee for President of the United States in 1984. He was also the Democratic Party’s nominee for re-election as Vice President of the United States in 1980.

Vice President Mondale was the son of Claribel Hope (Cowan), a music teacher, and The Rev. Theodore Sigvaard/Sigvard/Sigurd Mondale, a Methodist minister. His father was born in Bricelyn, Minnesota, to Norwegian parents. His mother was born in Pringhar, Iowa, and her ancestry was Scottish, English, and German. His maternal grandfather was born in Canada.

Vice President Mondale was married to artist and author Joan (Adams) Mondale, until her death. Joan was the daughter of a Presbyterian minister. The couple had three children, including politician and entrepreneur Ted Mondale, who was a Member of the Minnesota Senate, from 1991 to 1997; and radio personality, television host, and actress Eleanor Mondale. His half-brother was The Rev. Lester Mondale, a Unitarian minister.

Vice President Mondale’s paternal grandfather was Ole Fredericksen/Fredriksen/Fredrikson Mundal/Mondale (the son of Jørgen Frederik/Fredrik/Fredrick Pedersson/Pederson/Person Vangsnes and Brita Hansdatter/Hansdotter Mundal/Mundale). Ole was born in Mundal, Balestvand, Sogn, Norway. Vice President Mondale’s great-grandfather Frederik was born in Vangsnes, Leikanger, Sogn, the son of Per Bendikson/Bendiksson Vangsnes and Anna Christine/Kristina Hansdotter Bremer. Brita was born in Mundal, Leikanger, Sogn, the daughter of Hans Persson/Person Mundal and Gjertrud/Gjertrude Hansdotter/Hasdatter Bale.

Vice President Mondale’s paternal grandmother was Tarand Caroline Sevatsdatter/Sevatson/Severtsdatter Espegard (the daughter of Sevat Erikson/Erickson Espegardjorde/Espegard Underberget and Margit Olsdatter Opheim). Tarand was born in Espegard, Ål, Hallingdal, Buskerud, Norway. Sevat was the son of Eirik Sevatson Vangen Underberget and Torand Levorsdatter Espegard. Margit was the daughter of Ola Olson Opheim Kringla and Sunnev Torkjelldtr Svarteberg.

Vice President Mondale’s maternal grandfather was Robert Cowan (the son of Walter Cowan and Agnes Turnbull Phorson). Robert was born in Seaforth, Ontario, Canada, to Scottish parents. Vice President Mondale’s great-grandfather Walter was born in Galashiels, Roxburgshire, the son of Hector Cowans and Agnes Moscrip. Agnes was born in Averum, Berwickshire, and was likely the daughter of Robert Phorson and Jean Gray.

Vice President Mondale’s maternal grandmother was Clara Belle/Bell Morton (the daughter of James Morton and Ann/Anna Margaret Wilt). Clara was born in Johnston, Pennsylvania. James was born in England. Ann was born in Pennsylvania, of mostly or entirely Pennsylvania Dutch [German] descent, and was the daughter of Jacob Yingling Wilt and Ann Margaret Arble.

One other person of heavily Scandinavian ancestry has served as Vice President of the United States, Hubert Humphrey, from January 20, 1965 to January 20, 1969. He was also a member of the Democratic Party.

Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale were also the two people of heavily Scandinavian ancestry who were nominated for President of the United States by a major party, with Humphrey’s nomination being in 1968, both by the Democratic Party.

Mondale was also the Democratic Party’s nominee for re-election as Vice President in 1980. Aside of Humphrey and Mondale, two people of heavily Scandinavian ancestry were nominated for Vice President of the United States by a major party. They were:
*Earl Warren (1948; Republican; Warren was of Norwegian and Swedish descent)
*Lloyd Bentsen (1988, Democratic; Bentsen’s father was of Danish descent)

Walter was one of several people of heavily Scandinavian ancestry to win a major American party’s Presidential caucus and/or primary. He won 20 contests in 1984, the year he was nominated. The others were:
*Earl Warren (who sought the 1936, 1944, 1948, and 1952 Republican nominations; each time, won 1 state, California)
*Charles A. Christopherson (who sought the 1944 Republican nomination; won 1 state, South Dakota; Christopherson’s parents were Norwegian)
*Hubert Humphrey (Democratic; in 1952, he won 1 state, Minnesota; in 1960, he won 2 states; in 1972, he won 5 states)
*Joe Foss (who sought the 1956 Republican nomination; won 1 state, South Dakota; Foss’s father was of Norwegian descent)
*Henry M. Jackson (Democratic; ran in 1972 and 1976: in 1976, he won 4 contests; Jackson’s parents were Norwegian)

Other people of heavily Scandinavian heritage who have mounted plausible or semi-plausible campaigns for a major party’s nomination for President of the United States are:
*George T. Mickelson (who sought the 1952 Republican nomination; Mickelson’s father was Norwegian)
*Pat Paulsen (who sought the 1968, 1972, 1980, 1988, 1992, and 1996 nominations, usually Democratic; Paulsen’s father was Norwegian)
*Frank Carlson (who sought the 1968 Republican nomination; Carlson’s parents were Swedish)
*Lloyd Bentsen (who sought the 1976 Democratic nomination)
*John B. Anderson (who sought the 1980 Republican nomination, and was later an independent 1980 candidate; Anderson’s father was Swedish and Anderson’s mother was of Swedish descent)
*Bob Smith (who sought the 2000 Republican nomination; Smith’s paternal grandfather was of Danish descent)
*Gary Johnson (who sought the 2012 Republican nomination, and was the Libertarian Party’s 2012 and 2016 nominee for President of the United States; Johnson’s father was adopted by Danish and Norwegian parents, and was possibly himself of Scandinavian descent)
*Michele Bachmann (who sought the 2012 Republican nomination; Bachmann is of Norwegian descent)
*Jon Huntsman, Jr. (who sought the 2012 Republican nomination; Huntsman is of one eighth Swedish, one eighth Norwegian, and one sixteenth Danish, descent)
*Eric Swalwell (who sought the 2020 Democratic nomination; Swalwell’s mother is of Swedish and Danish descent)
*Perry Johnson (who sought the 2024 Republican nomination; Johnson’s father was of Swedish and Norwegian descent)

Sources: Genealogies of Vice President Mondale –

Genealogy of Vice President Mondale’s father –

Obituaries of Vice President Mondale’s maternal grandparents, Robert Cowan and Clara Belle/Bell (Morton) Cowan –

Obituary of Vice President Mondale’s maternal grandmother, Clara Belle/Bell (Morton) Cowan –

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