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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Senator Alan Spear Passes Away

From a Minneapolis Issues message by Linda Higgins:

Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller notified senators today that Senator Allan H. Spear of South Minneapolis passed away Saturday evening at North
Memorial Hospital of heart failure.

He was a retired Associate Professor of History, University of Minnesota.

He was first elected to the Minnesota Senate in 1972, representing a
Minneapolis district centered on the University of Minnesota. In the 1980s, after redistricting, his district became centered on the Lakes and Kenwood areas of Minneapolis. He served a total of 28 years in the Senate, retiring in 2000. He was chair of the Judiciary Committee for many years. He was President of the Senate from 1992 to 2000.

Senator Spear was President of the Senate when I first joined the Minnesota Senate. He conducted the business of the Senate in a manner that was unfailingly fair. He asked us first-termers if we wanted to try chairing part of a floor session, and I said yes. He was the President and a very senior member, but he always looked out for the rest of us.

As President, he rarely participated in the debate of bills. But when Senator Spear came down from the President's podium and rose to speak, something rare and wonderful happened: People put down the phones, put down whatever they were reading, and sat back and listened. Sometimes Allan Spear the history professor gave us a lesson that helped us come to the right conclusion. Sometimes it was speaking from personal experience on an issue before us. He was known as the man who single-handedly killed the dove hunting season bill (which passed after he retired), by getting up and giving a recipe for dove that started with "Take 32 dove breasts" and ended with "Serves four."

Allan Spear also was carrying the Human Rights bill that added sexual orientation to protected class status, saying (among other arguments) something to the effect that "I am a gay man and in my sixties. This is not a phase."

Senator Spear was a Senator - a Solon - who governed fairly, intelligently, and with heart and soul. I miss him already.

Alan Spear will be missed.