Wellstone’s Legacy Lives On at St. Paul’s Community Center

Nearly 20 years after the fatal plane crash that killed Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone, the legacy of his work and his family lives on in St. Paul at the Paul and Sheila Wellstone Center.

The community center is the headquarters of the 125 year old Community Center which operates throughout St. Paul welcoming immigrants and refugees to the city.

“This building has created an environment where people come in and feel welcome,” says Nancy Brady, president of Neighborhood House. “They feel invited.”

Brady helped raise millions for the 93,000 square foot building after Wellstone died on October 25, 2002. She is now back years later as president of Neighborhood House.

The building’s rotunda lobby features famous lines uttered by Wellstone, including: “We all do better when we all do better.” It is also written in several other languages ​​of the people served by Neighborhood House, from Spanish to Hmong.

Brady says Paul and Sheila Wellstone have always been focused on welcoming newcomers to America, as have Wellstone’s parents, who were Jewish immigrants from Russia.

“They were lively, vibrant and engaging,” Brady says of Paul and Sheila Wellstone. “They cared that every different cultural group was part of our community and had a sense of belonging.”

The building also features a tribute to Marcia Wellstone Markuson, their daughter who was on the plane with them. She was an avid runner and a teacher. The building has an indoor walking track through the hall to a preschool classroom. The money for the track was raised by his family and friends.

“They wanted to make sure she wasn’t left out of all of this and remembered,” Brady said.

All three Wellstone family members were killed in the plane crash, along with Wellstone staff members Weill McLaughlin, Tom Lapic and Mary McEvoy. Two pilots on board were also killed: Richard Conry and Michael Guess.

James C. Tibbs