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Minnesota state Sen. Gary Kubly dies

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ST. PAUL -- One of the old-style Minnesota state senators, not into partisan bickering, has died.

Sen. Gary Kubly, DFL-Granite Falls, died in a St. Paul hospital Friday after suffering a medical problem Wednesday morning. He was diagnosed with Lou Gerig's Disease in 2010 and his health gradually failed.

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Funeral services are expected to be in Granite Falls on Wednesday.

Condolences from politicians of all stripes began soon after Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, announced the 68-year-old's death Saturday afternoon.

"Sen. Kubly was a man who embodied every ideal as a person and in public service," Bakk said. "He worked hard. He was honest. He shared credit even when he was the one who did the heavy lifting. To Gary Kubly, it simply did not matter where you came from, only where you ended up. He got a lot of things done that way, and everyone in Minnesota is better for it."

Kubly was known for his advocacy for rural Minnesotans. He was the top-ranking Democratic-Farmer-Laborite on the Senate Agriculture and Rural Economies Committee.

He served in the state House from 1997 until he moved to the Senate in 2003.

Kubly usually was soft-spoken, but the disease made it so he barely could talk, at times in recent months resorting to using the speech capability of an iPad to communicate.

His wife, Pat, accompanied the senator to meetings, including Senate floor sessions, this year.

Before Kubly began this year's legislative session, he admitted doing the work was becoming difficult.

"I had thought of resigning, but they talked me out of it," Kubly said in an interview.

Bakk, who served with Kubly in both the House and Senate, said Kubly did not let his disease stop him: "He met his final challenge -- a grueling and agonizing diagnosis that sapped his strength -- with grit and the determination to serve his constituents to the very end. He was a man who managed a career in faith and politics in a way that few could ever match. He leaves us now with thousands of friends, and not an enemy in the world."

Kubly's nonpartisan nature attracted friends from both major political parties.

"He was a man of intellect and compassion, whose presence alone often reminded us of the special honor of public service," Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, said. "Sen. Kubly met his challenges bravely and with the power of faith, making us stronger by his example."

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton said Kubly also said Kubly was an inspiration. "He lived his life with quiet strength and principled dignity, as evidenced by the remarkable courage with which he faced his final illness."

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., called Kubly brave, adding "he was kind, witty, humble and served with grace to the end. ... He served his rural district like he served his church, always listening and quietly getting things done."

Kubly was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa, and lived in the rural Midwest most of his life.

Even as he entered what he knew would be his final legislative session, Kubly told the West Central Tribune's Tom Cherveny he remained determined and confident that he could effectively represent his rural constituents.

"Nobody wanted him to resign," said Pat Kubly, his wife of 42 years.

Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Daily Globe.

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Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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