By Jason Jenkins
Klobuchar: ‘His years of extraordinary public service will be remembered for generations’
The U.S. Post Office in Wayzata has officially been renamed in honor of the late Minnesota Congressman Jim Ramstad – making it a permanent reminder of his impact as a lawmaker and love for his community.
President Joe Biden signed off on a bill last month for the renaming in honor of Ramstad, who died last November of Parkinson’s disease at the age of 74.
The dedication was marked Sept. 2 with a ceremony in Wayzata. Friends, family and colleagues spoke about Ramstad’s legacy, which includes 10 years in the Minnesota Senate and nearly two decades in U.S. Congress, where he served Minnesota’s 3rd Congressional District for nine terms beginning in 1991. The Republican lawmaker retired from Congress in 2009.
“We are ensuring that his years of extraordinary public service will be remembered for generations to come,” Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said at the ceremony.
Klobuchar, who led the Senate version of the bill to rename the post office, said the dedication will serve as a longstanding reminder of a lawmaker she considered a “true mentor” on how to work with both Democrats and Republicans to get things done. The senator also spoke to Ramstad’s love for the Wayzata community and the people in his district.
“Jim cared so much about his constituents. ... He had this zest about politics. Some people are happiest when they’re in Washington. He was happiest when he was home getting things done for people – taking their ideas and actually putting them into action,” Klobuchar said.
Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips, the Democrat who currently holds the 3rd District seat Ramstad once held, authored the House bill for the renaming. Phillips too noted Ramstad’s ability to reach across the aisle and form friendships, including one with the late Democratic Sen. Paul Wellstone.
“That’s a lasting legacy, and this is how we all pay it forward – coming together in the spirit of decency and friendship and possibility,” Phillips said.
Ramstad was known for his work as a legislative advocate for mental health issues and people in recovery after his battle with alcoholism. He was a lead sponsor of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which was passed in 2008 after 12 years of advocacy and was signed into law by President George W. Bush. The legislation requires insurance companies to pay equally for mental and physical health benefits, including addiction treatment.
Early in his retirement, Ramstad served as an advisor to the Hazelden Foundation, which later became the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. Throughout his 39 years of sobriety, Ramstad supported friends, colleagues and strangers on their roads to recovery, according to leaders of the foundation.
Kathryn Ramstad, widow of the late congressman, said having Jim’s name on the post office in Wayzata is a fitting tribute.
“As a member of Congress, Jim traveled the world. But his favorite place on earth, by far, was Wayzata, Minnesota,” she said.
As future generations walk by the Jim Ramstad Post Office, Kathryn Ramstad said she hopes her late husband’s memory remains alive in the hearts of his many friends.
“Let’s live out the lessons he taught us: To lead by serving, to not take ourselves too seriously but to take our work seriously, to remember that neither political party has a corner on the right answers, but that if we can learn from each other and work together we could find the right answers – and above all, to be grateful for all that we have been blessed with in this life,” she said.
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