In memory of parks champion Dave Durenberger

Memorial service to be live streamed Feb. 7 at 10 am.

As the tributes to Senator Dave Durenberger continue to pour in following his passing on Jan. 31 at the age of 88, there is a common thread that runs through all of them. Sen. Durenberger was a rare breed of statesman whose intellectual curiosity, lifelong commitment to public service, and ability to consistently bridge partisan divides made him especially effective at advancing policy and moving legislation while he was in political office but also in the 28 years that followed.

Man wearing park ranger hat

Sen. Dave Durenberger receiving special recognition at PTC’s 2008 Annual Dinner.

Dave’s connection to Parks & Trails Council (P&TC) ran especially deep. His involvement with P&TC began in 1967 while he was chief of staff to Gov. Harold LeVander, and it would continue for the next 55-plus years until his death. He was a champion for the environment who could always be counted on to stand up for critical parks-and-trails policies and investments. He remained actively involved with P&TC as an honorary director who regularly accepted assignments that helped advance our mission. In 2008, P&TC honored Sen. Durenberger for his lifetime of service on behalf of Minnesota’s parks and trails with our prestigious Reuel Harmon Award. In 2014, Sen. Durenberger gave a keynote address on People Powered Policy: 60 years of Safeguarding Minnesota’s Natural Heritage to P&TC’s membership. You can see the speech on YouTube here.

Three people standing in formal attire in front of P&TC banner

Sen. Dave Durenberger with his wife, Susan Bartlett Foote and P&TC president Brett Feldman at the 2014 Annual Dinner.

During his three terms as U.S. Senator, Dave helped establish the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, helped secure appropriations to implement the landmark Boundary Waters Canoe Area Act of 1978, authored vital Clean Air and Water Act amendments, and was the driving force behind numerous other important pieces of environmental legislation and appropriations. Prior to his service in the United States Senate, he used his role as chief of staff to Gov. LeVander to help persuade the governor to get behind the creation of Voyageurs National Park. After leaving office, he got behind efforts to pass the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment. Plus, he took an active role in ensuring that land belonging to US Steel would eventually become Lake Vermilion State Park.

Three older men standing in formal attire at banquet hall

Sen. Dave Durenberger with then MN Court of Appeals Judge David Minge and Minnesota Twins President Jerry Bell. Taken at the 2008 annual dinner.

Dave’s influence on parks and trails in the state spanned both his private and public life: He served, at various times, on the Metropolitan Council’s Parks and Open Space Commission, the Hennepin County Park Reserve District, and the City of South St. Paul’s Parks and Recreation Board. Throughout his life, he was a leader in building bipartisan support for creating and preserving areas for outdoor recreation at every level.

Senator Durenberger’s visitation will be at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7, at Saint John’s Abbey and University Church in Collegeville, Minn., followed by the funeral Mass at 10 a.m. and a private burial. The service will be live-streamed here.

On behalf of Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota’s Board and Staff, we thank Sen. Durenberger for his lifetime of public service.

Top Banner photo: Sen. Dave Durenberger at P&TC Annual Dinner in 2008.