John Brandl, a former state representative and state senator who also served in the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, died Monday.
Brandl, 70, died at his son's home in Minnetrista after a battle with gastric cancer, said his wife, Rochelle Brandl.
Brandl, a graduate of St. John's University in Collegeville, taught economics at a number of universities and colleges, including the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota, where he also served Dean of the Institute.
He was a professor at the Humphrey Institute and a distinguished professor of public policy at St. John's at the time of his death.
Brandl served in the Minnesota House from 1977-78 and 1981-86, then was a member of the Minnesota Senate from 1987-90. He served as deputy assistant secretary at Health, Education and Welfare from 1968-69.
During his time in the Minnesota Legislature, Brandl, a Democrat, represented Minneapolis. He broke with many in his party by supporting education vouchers for low-income families to allow them to send their children to private or public schools.
Rep. Lyndon Carlson, DFL-Crystal, remembers Brandl as an effective lawmaker.
"He was known as quite an expert in the area of health care and health care delivery. So he provided a lot of leadership there as a member and actually even during his very first term, because he had a strong background there."
Carlson said Brandl helped to improve the state's financial aid system to allow more low and moderate income students to attend college
In a statement, St. Johns President Dietrich Reinhart called Brandl "a giant in Minnesota politics and economics."
"He combined a brilliant mind for scholarship with an usual ability to apply theory and research as a public servant in numerous policy-making positions, both in Minnesota and at the national level," Reinhart wrote.
Brandl is survived by his wife and three children: Christopher, Mary Katherine and Amy. Funeral arrangements were pending at Washburn-McReavy Funeral Chapel in Edina.
(The Associated Press and Mike Mulchay contributed to this story.)