US Stamps

By Michael Baadke

Joan Adams Mondale (1930-2014)

February 07, 2014 08:09 AM

Joan Adams Mondale, a former member of the United States Postal Service’s Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee and a prominent advocate of the arts, died Feb. 3. She was 83.

Mrs. Mondale was appointed to the committee, which selects and develops U.S. stamp subjects and designs for the approval of the postmaster general, in April 2005 by then-Postmaster General John E. “Jack” Potter.

She left the committee five years later, in April 2010.

During her tenure, she contributed to the development of more than 500 stamps, according to the U.S. Postal Service.

“Her expertise as noted advocate of the arts for more than 40 years was instrumental to developing the Abstract Expressionists stamps [issued March 11, 2010],” the Postal Service stated in a 2010 press release announcing her departure from the committee.

Mrs. Mondale was a member of the CSAC design subcommittee.

Many years before her CSAC appointment, she was a participant in the Postal Service’s April 28, 1980, design unveiling for the 15¢ Learning Never Ends stamp (Scott 1833), which features the painting Homage to the Square: Glow by Josef Albers.

Linn’s columnist John Hotchner served on CSAC with Mrs. Mondale during his 12-year tenure.

“Mrs. Mondale came to CSAC with a reputation of devotion to the arts, and she certainly lived up to her billing,” said Hotchner.

“She partnered with other members on several initiatives and showed herself to be a congenial member, not at all above the crowd as might have been expected of someone with her credentials and connections. The greatness of American art was certainly her passion, but that extended to all the arts, not just painting.

“The Seabiscuit envelope was one that she campaigned for as a reflection of the movie and the book, but she also supported poetry, stage and screen, and dance subjects. Regrettably, she was forced by illness to leave the committee early in 2010, after only five years of service.”

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama released a statement after learning of Mrs. Mondale’s passing, saying, “Through her contributions to the Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities and the Kennedy Center, she passionately advocated for the role of art in the life of our nation and the promotion of understanding worldwide.”

Joan Adams was born Aug. 8, 1930, in Eugene, Ore., and graduated from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn.

She immersed herself in the arts world, accepting positions at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. She was appointed honorary chairwoman of the Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities by President Jimmy Carter, and would later serve on the board of the National Portrait Gallery.

A statement from Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis noted that Mrs. Mondale died surrounded by family, including her husband, former Vice President Walter F. Mondale, whom she married in 1955, and their sons, Ted and William. Their daughter Eleanor died in 2011.

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