Sen. Amy Klobuchar's Dad, Famed Columnist Jim Klobuchar, Dies at 93: 'We Loved Him'

Jim Klobuchar was an award-winning columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune for three decades

Jim Klobuchar
Jim Klobuchar. Photo: Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via Getty

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar announced Wednesday that her father, longtime newspaper columnist Jim Klobuchar, has died. He was 93.

"He loved our state. He loved journalism. He loved sports and adventure. And we loved him," the younger Klobuchar said in a statement.

A cause of death was not disclosed, though his daughter said he had Alzheimer's.

He will be buried at Fort Snelling in Minneapolis and is survived by wife Susan Wilkes and daughters Amy, 60, and her sister, Meagan.

The senator's mother, Rose, Jim's first wife, died in 2010.

"Our press community lost a giant in Jim Klobuchar's passing," Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said Wednesday, according to local news station KSTP. "I feel very blessed that I had the privilege over the last 20 years or so to get to know Jim Klobuchar."

Jim was a sports writer and columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune for three decades after working as a reporter for the Bismarck Tribune and the Associated Press. Prior to that, he served two years in the U.S. Army.

In addition to his decades-long newspaper career, Jim wrote 23 books, hosted several local TV and radio show and taught at University of Minnesota and St. Thomas, according to the Star Tribune.

A scholarship at the University of Minnesota's School of Journalism and Mass Communication is being set up in Jim's name.

Jim Klobuchar
Jim Klobuchar. DUANE BRALEY/Star Tribune via Getty

Sen. Klobuchar on Wednesday shared an emotional tribute to her late father, to whom she had grown closer after he quit drinking in 1995.

Jim struggled with alcoholism throughout his daughter's life. He had three citations for driving while impaired, including one soon before her wedding in 1993.

"He had to choose between jail and treatment, and he chose treatment," Klobuchar told PEOPLE last year. "In his words, he was pursued by grace. And I believe everyone has that right."

On social media, she wrote that her dad "lived his final chapter of his life with Alzheimer's," although she says he kept up good spirits, still singing and sharing stories with his daughters.

"His own struggles with alcoholism were very public," she wrote, adding, "He helped others by sharing those stories, as well as how his faith and family and friends helped him on his lifelong journey to redemption and sobriety."

Amy and Jim Klobuchar
From left: Amy and Jim Klobuchar.

Klobuchar noted her father's list of accolades, from 8,400 published columns in the Star Tribune to his time spent traveling the world and "interviewing everyone from Mike Ditka to Ginger Rogers to Ronald Reagan."

"Throughout his life my dad was a champion of those on the outside," she wrote. "Through his writing he gave voice to the struggles and triumphs of countless Minnesotans."

Other lawmakers and reporters sent their condolences — and shared many of Jim's columns on social media — after news of his death.

The Star Tribune's obituary described Jim as "an intrepid son of the Iron Range who with grace and puckish wit chronicled the lives of ordinary and fabled Minnesotans."

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