Muriel Humphrey Brown

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Muriel Humphrey Brown
Senator Muriel Humphrey (D-MN).jpg
United States Senator
from Minnesota
In office
January 25, 1978 – November 7, 1978
Appointed byRudy Perpich
Preceded byHubert Humphrey
Succeeded byDavid Durenberger
Second Lady of the United States
In role
January 20, 1965 – January 20, 1969
Vice PresidentHubert Humphrey
Preceded byLady Bird Johnson (1963)
Succeeded byJudy Agnew
Personal details
Muriel Fay Buck

(1912-02-20)February 20, 1912
Huron, South Dakota, U.S.
DiedSeptember 20, 1998(1998-09-20) (aged 86)
Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
Resting placeLakewood Cemetery
Political partyDemocratic
Hubert Humphrey
(m. 1936; died 1978)

Max Brown (m. 1981)
Children4, including Skip
EducationHuron University

Muriel Fay Buck Humphrey Brown (February 20, 1912 – September 20, 1998) was an American politician who served as the Second Lady of the United States and as a U.S. Senator from Minnesota. She was married to the 38th Vice President of the United States, Hubert Humphrey. Following her husband's death, she was appointed to his seat in the United States Senate, thus becoming the only Second Lady of the United States to hold public office. She later remarried and took the name Muriel Humphrey Brown.

Early life and education[edit]

Humphrey was born Muriel Fay Buck in Huron, South Dakota, daughter of Andrew E. Buck and his wife, the former Jessie Mae Pierce. She attended Huron College and met Humphrey in 1934, when she was working as a bookkeeper. They married on September 3, 1936, saying, "It was love at first waltz".[1] They had four children: Hubert III, Nancy, Robert, and Douglas.

Political life[edit]

Muriel served as an informal adviser to her husband after he entered politics. His first office was mayor of Minneapolis. From there, he served three consecutive terms as Senator from Minnesota. It was during his second Senatorial campaign that Muriel began making campaign appearances alongside her husband. President Lyndon B. Johnson chose Hubert as his vice-presidential running mate in 1964. The ticket won the election and Hubert served as vice-president from 1965-69. After Hubert's unsuccessful run for President in 1968, he returned to the Senate in 1971.[2]

Humphrey was appointed from the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party by Rudy Perpich, the governor of Minnesota, to the Senate vacancy caused by the death of her husband, and served from January 25, 1978, to November 7, 1978, in the 95th Congress. She was the first spouse of a former Vice President to serve in Congress as well as the first woman to represent Minnesota in the U.S. Senate. She was not a candidate for the special election for the remaining term. "It was the most challenging thing I've done in my whole life," she said. Twenty-eight years later, Amy Klobuchar, a fellow DFLer, would become the first woman to be elected to the United States Senate from Minnesota.

Muriel's shyness made taking a high-profile political role difficult.[3]

Looking back at her political life, Humphrey reflected "There's something I've been wanting to say for a long time. I'm a liberal and I'm proud of it. In fact, I was probably a little more liberal than Hubert was. I just wanted to say that." While in office, and after, she pressed for the right for women to choose to have an abortion and worked towards legislation for the rights of the mentally disabled.[4]

Second marriage[edit]

In 1981, Humphrey married Max Brown, a friend from childhood.[5] "I don't live a life of politics any more," she said after her second marriage. "Max and I have so much fun. We have a wonderful companionship that Hubert and I didn't have, couldn't have. We were so busy and it was so official almost all the time."[6] Max Brown died in 2004 at the age of 93.[7]


When Muriel Humphrey Brown died, she was survived by her husband of 20 years, Max Brown, and her children, who were at her side when she died at the age of 86. She is interred in Lakewood Cemetery[8] in Minneapolis, Minnesota, next to her first husband, Hubert H. Humphrey.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Hopefuls' Helpmates", Time, 24 November 1958
  2. ^ Wasniewski, Matthew Andrew (2006). Women in Congress, 1917-2006. Government Printing Office. ISBN 9780160767531.
  3. ^ Molotsky, Irvin (21 September 1998). "Muriel Humphrey Brown, Senator, Dies at 86". New York Times. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  4. ^ New York Times obituary here
  5. ^ Mills, Barbara Kleban, "A Childhood Friendship Turns to Love, and Muriel Humphrey Plans to Be Married", People Magazine, February 16, 1981 (Vol. 15 No. 6)[1]
  6. ^ Olson, Rochelle, "Muriel Humphrey Brown, senator, widow of HHH, dead at 86", Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 21 September 1998
  7. ^
  8. ^ Find a Grave here

External links[edit]

Honorary titles
Title last held by
Lady Bird Johnson
Second Lady of the United States
Succeeded by
Judy Agnew
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Hubert Humphrey
United States Senator (Class 1) from Minnesota
Served alongside: Wendell Anderson
Succeeded by
David Durenberger