Eveleth residents gather at memorial service to remember Sen. Wellstone

Andrew Pritchard

EVELETH, Minn. – Less than 5 miles from the crash site of the late Sen. Paul Wellstone’s plane, approximately 30 Eveleth residents gathered Friday in the United in Christ Lutheran church for a hastily arranged memorial service.

“In the midst of life, there’s the tragedy of a sudden, tragic death,” said Pastor Daniel Johns.

Mourners sang hymns and listened to Bible readings Johns said were chosen from the Old Testament and Psalms – which Christianity and Judaism both consider sacred – in honor of Wellstone’s Jewish faith.

Johns said the late senator was a man of compassion, action and vision, as well as a friend to his constituents.

“We have lost a friend and a leader,” he said. “We have families who are devastated.”

Eveleth resident Dee Ekroos said northern Minnesota had lost an advocate in Washington.

“We’ve lost a friend,” she said. “He was a friend to people on the Iron Range.”

Melvin Isaacson said Wellstone’s death would be felt by workers in the region’s troubled economy.

“He’s out for the down and out,” he said.

Wellstone’s work to make health plans affordable had benefited many in the area, he added.

“He’s a nice guy to talk to. He’s very compassionate, not just fighting for the Range but for everybody,” Isaacson said. “He’s Minnesota’s senator.”