Muriel Humphrey Brown
|Muriel Fay Buck Humphrey Brown|
|United States Senator
January 25, 1978 – November 7, 1978
|Appointed by||Rudy Perpich|
|Preceded by||Hubert Humphrey|
|Succeeded by||David Durenberger|
|Second Lady of the United States|
January 20, 1965 – January 20, 1969
|Preceded by||Lady Bird Johnson|
|Succeeded by||Judy Agnew|
February 20, 1912|
Huron, South Dakota
|Died||September 20, 1998
|Spouse(s)||Hubert Humphrey (1936–1978) (until his death)
Max Brown (1981–1998) (until her death)
|Children||Hubert III, Nancy, Robert, and Douglas|
|Alma mater||Huron College|
Muriel Fay Buck Humphrey Brown (February 20, 1912 – September 20, 1998) was the widow of former Vice President Hubert Humphrey. Following her husband's death, she was appointed to his seat in the United States Senate, thus being the first wife of a Vice President to hold public office. She later remarried and took the name Muriel Humphrey Brown.
Humphrey was born Muriel Fay Buck in Huron, South Dakota, daughter of Andrew E. Buck and his wife, the former Jessie Mae Pierce. She attended Huron College and met Humphrey in 1934, when she was working as a bookkeeper. They married on September 3, 1936, saying, "It was love at first waltz".1 They had four children: Hubert III, Nancy, Robert, and Douglas.
Humphrey was appointed as a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party by Rudy Perpich, the governor of Minnesota, to the Senate vacancy caused by the death of her husband, and served from January 25, 1978 to November 7, 1978 in the 95th Congress. She was the first spouse of a former Vice President to serve in Congress as well as the first woman to represent Minnesota in the U.S. Senate. She was not a candidate for the special election for the remaining term. "It was the most challenging thing I've done in my whole life," she said. Twenty-eight years later, Amy Klobuchar, a fellow DFLer, would become the first woman to be elected to the United States Senate from Minnesota.
Looking back at her political life, Humphrey reflected "There's something I've been wanting to say for a long time. I'm a liberal and I'm proud of it. In fact, I was probably a little more liberal than Hubert was. I just wanted to say that." While in office, and after, she pressed for the right for women to choose to have an abortion and worked towards legislation for the rights of the mentally disabled.2
In 1981, Humphrey married Max Brown, a friend from childhood.3 "I don't live a life of politics any more," she said after her second marriage. "Max and I have so much fun. We have a wonderful companionship that Hubert and I didn't have, couldn't have. We were so busy and it was so official almost all the time."4 Max Brown died in 2004 at the age of 93. 5
When Muriel Humphrey Brown died, she was survived by her husband of 17 years, Max Brown, and her children, who were at her side when she died at the age of 86. She is interred in Lakewood Cemetery 6 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, next to her first husband, Hubert H. Humphrey.
- "Hopefuls' Helpmates", Time, 24 November 1958
- New York Times obituary here
- Mills, Barbara Kleban, "A Childhood Friendship Turns to Love, and Muriel Humphrey Plans to Be Married", People Magazine, February 16, 1981 (Vol. 15 No. 6)
- Olson, Rochelle, "Muriel Humphrey Brown, senator, widow of HHH, dead at 86", Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 21 September 1998
- Find a Grave here
- Muriel Humphrey Brown at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Muriel Humphrey Papers are available for research use at the Minnesota Historical Society.
Lady Bird Johnson
|Second Lady of the United States
|United States Senate|
|U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Minnesota
January 25, 1978 – November 7, 1978
Served alongside: Wendell Anderson