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Joan Mondale, wife of former U.S. vice president, dies at 83

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[February 04, 2014]  By David Bailey

MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters)  Joan Mondale, the wife of former U.S. Vice President Walter Mondale and a champion of the arts, died on Monday, her family said in a statement. She was 83.

Mondale died with the former vice president, her sons Ted and William, and other family members at her side, said the statement released through their church. She entered hospice care on Friday. The family did not provide details on her illness.

"We are grateful for the expressions of love and support we have received. Joan was greatly loved by many. We will miss her dearly," Walter Mondale, 86, said in a statement.

Mondale's support for the arts ran more than six decades from her study and work in college through her promotion of arts programs and artists during and after Walter Mondale's terms as a U.S. senator, vice president and ambassador.

"A lifelong patron of the arts, Joan filled the vice presidential mansion with works by dozens of artists, including many unknowns, and later did the same at the U.S. embassy in Japan during her husband's tenure as ambassador," President Barack Obama and his wife said in a statement.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Vice President Mondale and his family today as we remember with gratitude 'Joan of Art' and her service to our nation."

Named by former President Jimmy Carter as honorary chairperson of the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities, Mondale advocated for government support of the arts across the United States, according to a biography from the Minnesota Historical Society.

Mondale had given tours and lectures at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and gave tours of the National Gallery of Art after moving with her family to Washington, the biography said. Her 1972 book, "Politics in Art," was based on her lectures.

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She filled the vice president's residence with contemporary American art during Walter Mondale's term and immersed herself in Japanese art when he served as ambassador to Japan in the 1990s, according to the historical society biography.

Joan Mondale was preceded in death by her daughter Eleanor Mondale, who died in 2011 from brain cancer.

A service will be held on Saturday at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis, the statement said.

(Reporting by David Bailey; additional reporting by Roberta Rampton in Washington; editing by Cynthia Johnston and Lisa Shumaker)

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