Fred Marshall; Ex-Minnesota Congressman

From Times Wire Services

Fred Marshall, who won acclaim for his modesty when he began the first of his seven terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, has died at the age of 79.

Marshall, who died Wednesday at Meeker County Hospital in Litchfield, had suffered from heart problems and Hodgkin’s disease in recent months.

Marshall broke into politics in 1948, the year that Democratic President Harry S. Truman was elected in an upset victory over favored Thomas E. Dewey.

He unseated 6th District Republican Harold Knutson, then chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. It was Marshall’s first try for elective office, and he became the first Democratic congressman from the central Minnesota district since the 1800s.


He drew immediate attention to himself in Washington when, in response to a Washington Star survey of new congressmen, he described himself simply as “Fred Marshall, farmer, married, two children.” The newspaper then did an extensive feature on the modest new congressman.

“This was an unassuming man with no political know-how,” said former Rep. John Blatnik, who represented Minnesota’s 8th District for 14 terms and served with Marshall. “He had no charisma. I don’t think he’d even know how to spell it. But, he was a man of solid substance. If there ever was a man of the soil from the Midwest--a grass-roots Populist--he was it.”

Marshall was a member of the House Appropriations and Agriculture committees during his seven terms, which ran from 1949 through 1962.

He was known for his independent voting patterns, which helped him solidify support in his home district.