Joan Mondale, who died yesterday at age 83, was on the customary mission of a political spouse when she visited WKU on September 17, 1984. She was seeking support for her husband, former vice president Walter Mondale, the Democratic Party’s nominee to challenge President Ronald Reagan’s bid for re-election in November.
At a rally on DUC’s north lawn, Mrs. Mondale reminded the crowd of her husband’s sponsorship of Title IX legislation, which had allowed schools like WKU to develop strong women’s athletic programs. She also criticized the Reagan administration’s education policy, particularly its cuts to financial aid programs and low-interest loans.
After her speech, Warren County Judge Executive Basil Griffin presented Mrs. Mondale with a country ham–making her not the first or last dignitary to receive this token of appreciation. But this being WKU, she also received (and gamely waved) a red towel, courtesy of none other than Big Red. Having encouraged her husband to make history by choosing a woman to be his vice-presidential running mate (which he did, selecting Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro), Mrs. Mondale would have been pleased to know that inside the furry WKU mascot costume was Jessica Rappaport, the first female ever to play Big Red.