Wellstone: We Remember
Posted at: 10/25/2012 6:44 PM
| Updated at: 10/25/2012 10:16 PM
By: Renee Passal
Dave Wellstone said it gets easier to speak about now. But ten years ago, was another story.
"It was a horrible thing. And people would ask how I could go on. And I was like yeah, this is a horrible thing. And I'm pissed off," he shared with us at our studios recently. "But now it's easier to see the bumper stickers and signs. And I've come to embrace the love that people still have for my family."
He's the eldest son of Paul and Sheila Wellstone. When that plane went down near Eveleth, on October 25, 2002, he lost his parents. He also lost his sister, Marcia. Three staffers and two pilots also perished that day.
Part of his healing process has included putting down his memories to paper. He's written a memoir called, "Becoming Wellstone." In it, he shares light hearted examples about what it was like to grow up in that family.
"Going to school board meetings, having him jump up, someone saying that's out of order. Then he'd say, what's out of order is what's going on here," he remembers with a chuckle.
"I wanted people to see how they parented, and feel like they could do the same thing."
One of Senator Wellstone's great causes was mental health. And that has helped his son move on from the tragedy as well.
Last summer, he spoke at the dedication of the new mental health crisis unit in Eveleth, that bears his family's name. And now he's founded a new non-profit devoted to mental health.
He told us he thinks it's been the right thing to make the best of it, and try and find meaning.
And meaning is what Duluth Mayor Don Ness told he he's found as well. At the time of the crash, he was the campaign manager for Congressman Jim Oberstar. That day, he had to break the news to his fellow campaign co-workers, including, his future wife.
"It was the first time I hugged Laura. It was in support, just to get through this together," he recalls.
He told us he's had an internal struggle about how one of the worst days of his life, lead to the most precious gift of love.
"I'm convinced had that not happened, Laura and I would not have become a couple."
They are married and have three children. And Ness is the leader of the city he loves so much.
He has come to terms with that internal struggle because of what he says the Wellstones stood for and did with their lives. "Paul and Sheila were such special people. They brought out the best in people. And inspired beautiful, creative thing, because of who they were."
So many local leaders like Ness keep the Wellstones in their hearts. And even those close to the White House, remember.
Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, mentioned the Wellstones last week when she stopped in Duluth. She called them, dear friends.
"Paul and Sheila, you know, were so involved in the political process. Really you are their legacy, because you are involved as well," she told the crowd at the Labor Temple in Duluth.
And the legacy is all of the people who still live the life of helping others. They carry on, which carries on the mission made so clear to them, by one man, one woman, and their ideals.
"Moving ahead, and do good stuff. Doing good deeds. That's what I think makes my folks smile," Dave Wellstone said.
Senator Wellstone had been campaigning for his third term in office, at the time of the crash.