MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Eleanor Mondale Poling was remembered Wednesday in a packed service filled with family, friends and dignitaries. Mondale, a former WCCO-TV reporter and WCCO-AM radio host, died last month after a six-year battle with brain cancer.
Mondale was remembered for her courageous and very public battle with her illness, as well as her wit and devotion to animals.
Dignitaries and friends of the family streamed in to St. Mark’s Cathedral in Minneapolis, including Gov. Mark Dayton, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Sen. Al Franken, and Mayors Chris Coleman of St. Paul and R.T. Rybak of Minneapolis.
Inside the cathedral, former Vice President Walter Mondale escorted his wife, Joan, in to the church’s front right-side pew. Eleanor’s husband, the musician Chan Poling, sat in the left-hand front pew.
The pain of this public family was shared in the eulogies.
“One of the last days that Eleanor could talk, dad sang ‘Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow,’ the song from Annie, ‘You’re only a day away,'” William Mondale said.
Her brother, Ted Mondale, said Wednesday is a day for mourning but also for celebration.
“Today, we celebrate her spirit, her loving kindness and yes, we celebrate the fact that she has regained her freedom,” he said.
Her WCCO-AM co-host Susie Jones remembered her courage.
“At the end, she was brave and full of grace. In the end, Eleanor made me a better person and I will be grateful for having known such a brave and remarkable woman,” she said.
After the service, Ted Mondale spoke about how Eleanor’s battle with cancer inspired so many others and how the thousands of messages on her CaringBridge site and emails from those supporters have been a comfort.
“She had a following that was deeply personal and they reached out a lot and I know my dad read all of them. It was very nice,” he said.
Both William and Ted Mondale said despite her illness, her final year being married to well-known musician Poling — at their farm in Prior Lake with all of her horses and dogs and other animals — were the happiest of her life.
Memorial Service: Part 1
Memorial Service: Part 2