Minnesota Senators observed a moment of silence on Tuesday in honor of former Rochester Republican Sen. Nancy Brataas who died on Thursday at the age of 86.
Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, asked for the moment of silence. Brataas was the first woman elected in her own right to the Minnesota Senate. She served 17 years in the Senate, beginning in 1975. Nelson recalled Brataas telling her stories about those early days as the lone woman in the chamber. One senator objected to her presence on the floor because she was not wearing a tie as required by Senate custom. Often, Brataas would wear a blouse with a scarf tied to look similar to a tie. On Tuesday, Nelson did the same.
"Today I wear a blouse with a tie in honor of our dear friend Sen. Brataas who blazed the trail for so many of us here today," she said.
All the senators stood in the chamber and bowed their heads for the moment of silence. Afterwards, Sen. Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, talked about Brataas being "a dear friend, a coach (and) a person we have and had the utmost respect for." He told his fellow senators that Brataas loved the Senate and the process of government. She also understood success in the Legislature is all about relationships, which enabled her to be an extremely effective lawmaker despite having served in the minority party during her entire tenure.
"I feel that she is here and she is looking down on us and she is smiling at us and all she is wishing us to do is work as she did and move this state forward as I think she did," Senjem said.
A bouquet of flowers were placed in the Senate's retiring room and members and staff who knew Brataas were encouraged to sign cards. Nelson announced a memorial service for Brataas will be at 11 a.m. May 10 at Ranfranz & Vine Funeral Homes in Rochester. The visitation at the funeral home will begin at 10 a.m. There will also be a celebration of her contributions to civic life in Minnesota at the University Club in St. Paul from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on May 18.