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Joan Mondale, wife of former vice president, dies at 83

Jim Mone / AP file

Joan Mondale, the wife of Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Walter Mondale, pictured at a press conference at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport on Oct. 23, 1976.

Joan Mondale, a passionate arts supporter and the wife of former Vice President Walter Mondale, died at age 83 on Monday.

The family announced her death in a statement through their church. She had gone into hospice care in Minneapolis, Minn., early on Friday.

Her husband, sons Ted and William, and other family members were at her side, the statement released by Westminster Presbyterian Church said.

"We are grateful for the expressions of love and support we have received. Joan was greatly loved by many. We will miss her dearly," said her husband, the former vice president.

Mondale earned the nickname "Joan of Art" while her husband was vice president under Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981.

Carter appointed her honorary chairwoman of the Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities, a role that led to frequent visits to museums, theaters and art studios on the behalf of the administration. She also lobbied Congress and states to boost public funding for art programs.

In the vice-presidential mansion, she showcased famous American artists, including outdoor photographer Ansel Adams, sculptor David Smith and painter Georgia O'Keeffe. She did the same at the U.S. embassy in Japan during her husband's stint as ambassador.

Monday evening, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama sent condolences to the Mondale family and praised her contributions to the arts community.

“Through her contributions to the Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities and the Kennedy Center, she passionately advocated for the role of art in the life of our nation and the promotion of understanding worldwide,” the Obamas said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Vice President Mondale and his family today as we remember with gratitude ‘Joan of Art’ and her service to our nation.”

Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Dr. Jill Biden, longtime friends of the Mondales, also extended their condolences, saying in a statement, “We will always treasure our time with her and will miss her smile, friendship and counsel.”

Her husband — who also served more than 20 years in the Senate — ran for president in 1984, but lost to incumbent President Ronald Reagan.

She was born Joan Adams in Eugene, Ore., on Aug. 8, 1930, according to the AP. She later moved to St. Paul, Minn., where her father, a Presbyterian Minister, had taken an assignment.

She earned an undergraduate degree at Macalester College, a liberal arts school her husband also attended.

A service will be held on Saturday at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis, the family's statement said

The Associated Press contributed to this report.