CASS LAKE -- Former state Sen. Harold “Skip” Finn died Thursday, according to a statement from his daughter.
Finn, 69, a Leech Lake band member, represented Minnesota’s District 4 from 1991 to 1996. A member of the DFL, he also served as Majority Whip.
In a statement released Friday, Finn’s daughter, Jamie Becker-Finn -- who is now a state representative herself -- said her father died at the University of Minnesota Medical Center in Minneapolis.
The former senator was raised in Cass Lake and attended school there. The first in his family to go to college, he went to Moorhead State College, then studied sociology and American Indian studies and received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota. He was the first to receive a degree in American Indian studies from the university. Finn went on to receive his law degree from the University of Minnesota in 1979.
After working as an attorney and small-business owner, Finn became the first Native American to serve as a Minnesota senator. As a lawmaker he focused on health care access and affordability, the environment and education, according to the legislature’s website.
Finn resigned from the legislature in 1996 after he was convicted of fraud.
“Above all else, Skip loved his family. He adored his grandchildren. He loved hunting, fishing, and ricing, and passing those traditions on to others,” said an obituary sent to the Pioneer. “He didn’t want a ‘big braggy’ obituary but it should be noted for the record that he was brilliant, funny, and incredibly dedicated to taking care of his family.”
Becker-Finn, who lives in Roseville, Minn., was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2016, representing District 42B.
She said in a statement that it is an honor to carry on her father’s legacy.
“My dad instilled in me a dedication to my community and people, and a desire to work towards taking care of those most in need and protecting our environment now and in the future,” she wrote. “I thank everyone for their support and patience as our family deals with this tremendous grief.”
A memorial meal is set for 6 p.m. Monday, May 21 at the Veterans Memorial Building in Cass Lake.