Minnesota Remembers Longtime Political Leader Tom Rukavina

DULUTH, Minn. – Minnesota is remembering the life of longtime Minnesota politician and Northland leader Tom Rukavina who particularly always fought hard for Iron Range workers.

The 68-year-old from Virginia died Monday after a battle with leukemia.

Rukavina, who was known for his passion and feistiness at times, served on the Minnesota House of Representatives for 26 years.

He most recently served as a St. Louis County Commissioner, which he was to retire from this week.

Fellow County Commissioner Patrick Boyle reflected on Rukavina’s life Monday.

“Much a father figure.  I always called him the Mark Twain of the Range,” Boyle said. “He could literally punch your face in during a debate and then take you out after and buy you beer or lunch and tell you what you did wrong. Just the type of guy he was.”

Boyle also said Rukavina should be remembered for establishing a scholarship fund using iron ore royalties to assist students at community colleges in St. Louis County.

Meanwhile, Sen. Amy Klobuchar was one of many politicians to release statements about their time with Rukavina:

“Minnesota and the Iron Range have lost a true champion for workers. Tom Rukavina understood the dignity of hard work, and was a force for Iron Range workers and their families. He spent nearly three decades in elected office on the Range fighting for miners and bringing good-paying union jobs to the region. As Tom would tell it, he was for the little fellers, not the Rockefellers—a tribute to his friend and the late Senator Paul Wellstone, who died in a plane crash on his way to attend a funeral for Tom’s father, Bennie. Tom also taught his children the value of service. His daughter, Ida, leads my Northern Minnesota office and shares her father’s strength and tenacity. My prayers are with Ida and the entire Rukavina family today.”

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