(KMSP) - A former First Lady of Minnesota has passed away.
Jane Freeman was the wife of Orville Freeman, who served as Minnesota Governor from 1955 to 1961 and later as the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture from 1961 to 1969.
Jane Freeman also dedicated her life to public service, working with many organizations like the United Nations and UNICEF. She also served as the National President of the Girl Scouts of America from 1978 to 1984.
She was 96 years old.
Minnesota DFL Chairman Ken Martin statement:
“First Lady Jane Freeman was a founding mother of the DFL. Raised during the Great Depression, she was filled with a passion for justice and opportunity from an early age. Her humanitarian heart and political savvy established her as a leader in international development, women’s empowerment, and Democratic politics. She dedicated her career to improving the lives of everyday families—whether they lived right here in Minnesota or on the other side of the world. My thoughts and prayers are with the Freeman family during this time of loss.”
Senator Amy Klobuchar statement:
“We lost a great woman today. At 96, Jane Freeman was still going strong. She served as First Lady of Minnesota and the Department of Agriculture as well as National President of the Girl Scouts. With her good and persistent spirit, she lifted up so many to public service, including President Obama, her husband Orville, kids, grandkids, and me! We will miss her dignity, charm and genuine love of politics.”
Governor Mark Dayton statement:
“Jane Freeman was a wonderful First Lady, and an outstanding civic leader.”
Statement from Girl Scouts of the USA:
"We at Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) were saddened to learn of the recent passing of Ms. Jane Freeman, who served GSUSA as its national president for six years, from 1978 to 1984, after serving on GSUSA’s national board starting in 1966. Her earliest roots with Girl Scouts began when she joined as a young Girl Scout Brownie in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She then continued her membership throughout high school in Minnesota, where she eventually graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor of arts degree in political science. In addition to her service to Girl Scouts, she supported several national and international humanitarian causes throughout her life, including CARE, the United Nations, and UNICEF, embodying the Girl Scout mission by striving to make the world a better place.
In Ms. Freeman’s time as national president, she emphasized the importance of career development for Girl Scouts: “What is significant,” she said, “is Girl Scouting’s commitment to present all of the options available to tomorrow’s woman so that girls will be prepared to assume a diversity of roles as homemakers, community leaders, and professional or career women.”
Her legacy in the Girl Scout Movement also endures at the Edith Macy Conference Center. She oversaw the development of “Macy,” as Girl Scouts affectionately call this beautiful 400-acre wooded property, into a year-round training and educational facility. Macy celebrated its 35th anniversary in its current incarnation last year and continues to thrive as a place for Girl Scout volunteers and staff members, as well as for other nonprofits and for-profits, to meet and participate in educational opportunities.
In addition, under her leadership as national president, Girl Scouts launched a new level of Girl Scouting: Girl Scouts Daisies, the youngest girls served, in kindergarten and first grade. This was part of the organization’s vision to continually evolve to best serve the needs of contemporary girls and their families, something Girl Scouts proudly continues to do today.
Most importantly, in Ms. Freeman’s faithful dedication to Girl Scouts’ mission, she had a positive influence on millions of girls’ lives, who in turn have made positive change in their communities and our country. We are extremely grateful for all that she did for the Girl Scout Movement. We know her tremendous legacy lives on in the countless Girl Scouts she inspired with her decades of public service to her country and its citizens, especially girls, and hope this is of some comfort to her family and loved ones at this time."