Former U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar endorsed Rick Nolan today in the Democrats’ bid to reclaim the seat from the man who surprised Oberstar two years ago — GOP newcomer Chip Cravaack. But the two politicians shared the moment with a groundbreaking woman who kept politicians in line for nearly half a century — Veda Ponikvar.
MPR Photo/Dan Kraker
Ponikvar turned 92 on June 4. She became the first and the youngest female newspaper publisher in the country in 1946, when she founded the Chisholm Free Press at 28. According to the Minnesota History Center, political leaders from Hubert Humphrey to Rudy Perpich looked to her as a leader and interpreter of Iron Range political opinion.
Nolan and Oberstar held their event at the Minneosta Museum of Mining in Chisholm, inside Ponikvar’s reconstructed office. The two men spoke in front of the original hand-crank offset press newspaper press that Ponikvar used to print the paper. Oberstar said his first job growing up in Chisholm was to deliver the paper to every house on the north side of town.
And when Oberstar said he asked the 92-year-old whether she could still operate the offsett press, she quickly replied, “Yes I can!”