Veteran Minnesota lawmaker Linda Scheid has died while in hospice care after a six-year battle with ovarian cancer.
Scheid's sister, Becky Longabaugh, said the longtime Democratic lawmaker died Wednesday afternoon at home.
Scheid, a DFL state senator from Brooklyn Park, announced recently she was stopping treatment for ovarian cancer and was in hospice care at home. On Tuesday she told her family she thought it was time for her to go. Her son Scott Scheid said she was surrounded by family when she passed away.
"There wasn't a fake or phony thing about her," he said. "It's really been our great pleasure to share her with Minnesota."
Thursday is Linda Scheid's birthday; she would have been 69. Scott Scheid jokes that his mother chose the day before her birthday to die out of vanity.
"The number next to her will be 68 rather than 69," Scott Scheid said.
Linda Scheid was born in Minneapolis. Her son said her parents were community-minded, and Republican.
Linda Scheid's mother died her first week of high school. Her father ran a gas station, so Linda Scheid and her sister looked after themselves a lot. As a young woman Linda Scheid went to Africa to volunteer in the Peace Corps. Scott Scheid said that's where her devotion to social justice was cemented.
"She just witnessed suffering and real poverty by our standards and it really put the hooks in her," Scott Scheid said.
Linda Scheid met her husband in Africa. They came back to Minnesota and had two sons. She worked as a teacher and got involved with the League of Women Voters. She protested the Vietnam War and planted a peace sign in the family's front yard.
AN "UNIMPEACHABLE SENSE OF JUSTICE"
Colleagues and friends remember Linda Scheid as a bipartisan and detail-oriented lawmaker with a strong sense of justice for the people.
Linda Scheid was first elected to the Minnesota House more than three decades ago, in 1976. She served six terms in the House, and was in the middle of her fifth term in the Senate. Linda Scheid told reporters earlier this year the mortgage foreclosure was real to her.
“What I'll remember the most I think is that Senator Scheid has this absolute, unimpeachable sense of justice.”Ron Elwood, Legal Aid
"Maybe your mortgage amount is more than what the assessor is saying your home is worth. That's a pretty scary moment," Linda Scheid said. "I have family members who are facing, or in that situation. I'm pretty close myself."
Linda Scheid was supporting a mortgage foreclosure prevention mediation law that would encourage lenders and homeowners to negotiate a settlement to keep people in homes. It was a cause she took up as soon as the enormity of the mortgage meltdown became apparent in 2008.
Linda Scheid urged fellow lawmakers to get behind proposals to more closely regulate mortgage lenders and offer help to borrowers.
Linda Scheid's colleague and friend, state Sen. Linda Higgins, DFL-Minneapolis, remembers a commerce and consumer protection committee session, one of the panels Linda Scheid chaired when Democrats controlled the Senate.
Higgins said Linda Scheid listened to the lenders who opposed additional regulation and then invited borrowers to tell their stories.
"Citizens from all over the state were given an opportunity to come and talk about their experiences with predatory lending and how they had been harmed through some very shady practices," Linda Scheid said.
Legal Aid attorney and lobbyist Ron Elwood said Linda Scheid's interest in consumer protection fit with her personal view of the world.
"She's well known as someone interested in furthering the business climate in Minnesota," Elwood said. "But what I'll remember the most, I think, is that Senator Scheid has this absolute, unimpeachable sense of justice."
Elwood said that when something offended her sense of what was right and what was wrong, there was no stopping her.
When Republicans took control of the Senate, Linda Scheid relinquished chair of the Commerce committee to Sen. Chris Gerlach, R-Eagan.
Gerlach, a businessman, had been the ranking minority member. He said the commerce committee is very technical, settling disputes among competing business interests.
Time and again, Gerlach said, Linda Scheid found middle ground on contentious issues that led to agreements.
"She always was able to discern where the sweet spot was and come up with legislation and guide the discussion down the middle and come up with bills that people — whether they were from Legal Aid or whether they were from the banking industry — could ultimately get enough votes to pass," Gerlach said.
Gerlach said Linda Scheid, an attorney, was a political centrist. He said she was personable, easy to get along with and a doting grandmother.
"She was enormously proud of her grandchildren," he said.
Linda Scheid's most recent legislative accomplishment was passing the so-called Surly bill this year, allowing Brooklyn Center-based Surly Brewing and other Minnesota breweries to sell beer on site. She long pushed for a bill to allow grocery stores to sell wine.
The family has set up a Facebook page for friends and family to remember Scheid.
Further information on Linda Scheid's memorial service will follow as details are confirmed.
Linda Scheid is survived by Scott Scheid and another son, Kristofer, and two young granddaughters. The family plans a scholarship fund in Linda Scheid's name at Brooklyn Center High School.