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Willet, Gerald L. "Jerry"

Senate 1971-72 (District 65); Senate 1973-87 (District 4)

Party when first elected:  Nonpartisan Election-Liberal Caucus

Counties Served:  Becker, Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater, Hubbard, Itasca, Mahnomen, Morrison, Wadena

BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION

Date of Birth: 10/31/1934
Birth Place: Duluth, Minnesota
Birth County: St. Louis
Birth Country: United States
Date of Death: 9/10/2017
Gender: Male
Religion: Catholic
Reported Minority: None Reported
Other Names: Jerry
City of Residence (when first elected): Park Rapids
Occupation (when first elected): Furniture Business Owner

EDUCATION

Laporte High School; Secondary; Graduate, 1952

OTHER GOVERNMENT SERVICE

Military: United States Air Force Auxiliary Civil Air Patrol, Minnesota (Eagles); 19?? to 19??
State Agency: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (Commissioner, Appointed by Governor Rudy Perpich); 11/15/1987 to 1991 [Appointed]

FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS

Spouse: Anita Ware (married on May 2, 1955)
Children: Four children: Nedra, Noel, Neil, and Nona
Family Members Who Have Served in the Minnesota Legislature:

GENERAL NOTES

Special Legislative Concerns: finance, agriculture, natural resources, small business.

"Among his most important legislative accomplishments are the Payment in Lieu of Tax bill of 1979, The Acid Rain Deposition Act of 1982, and the Clean Water Partnership Act of 1987. He was also very active in legislation that created The Heartland Trail and established the Good Samaritan Act." (Bemidji Pioneer obit).

"In October of 1986, Governor Rudy Perpich made a proclamation of Senator Jerry Willet day in Minnesota." (Bemidji Pioneer obit).

He was a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.

He was a member of the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources for 12 years.

"Jerry became known as 'The People's Senator.'" (Bemidji Pioneer obit).

He was a member of St. Peter's Catholic Church.

Religion provided by the MN Legislative Manual, 1975-76.

Total Days Served: 6159

SESSIONS SERVED

75th Legislative Session (1987-1988)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 04
Elected: 11/4/1986
Residence: Park Rapids
Term of Office: 1/6/1987 to 11/15/1987 (unfinished term)
Counties Represented: Beltrami, Cass, Hubbard
Occupation: Businessman
Party: Democratic-Farmer-Labor
Committees:
  • Elections and Ethics
  • Environment and Natural Resources (Chair) [He was Chair in 1987 only.]
  • Finance
  • Finance: State Departments Division
  • Rules and Administration
  • Rules and Administration: Bill Referral
Reason for unfinished term: Appointed to other office
Session Notes: His term end date is uncertain due to his appointment to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. He was appointed by Gov. Perpich to the position of Commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, effective November 15, 1987.

74th Legislative Session (1985-1986) (second half of Senate term)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 04
Elected: 11/2/1982
Residence: Park Rapids
Term of Office: 1/4/1983 to 1/5/1987
Counties Represented: Beltrami, Cass, Hubbard
Occupation: Businessman
Party: Democratic-Farmer-Labor
Committees:
  • Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • Elections and Ethics
  • Finance (Chair)
  • Finance: Agriculture/Transportation/Semi-States - Ex Officio Member
  • Finance: Education - Ex Officio Member
  • Finance: Health and Human Services - Ex Officio Member
  • Finance: Joint Claims - Ex Officio Member
  • Finance: State Departments - Ex Officio Member
  • Rules and Administration
  • Rules and Administration: Personnel

73rd Legislative Session (1983-1984)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 04
Elected: 11/2/1982
Residence: Park Rapids
Term of Office: 1/4/1983 to 1/5/1987
Counties Represented: Beltrami, Cass, Hubbard
Occupation: Businessman
Party: Democratic-Farmer-Labor
Committees:
  • Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • Elections and Ethics
  • Finance (Chair)
  • Finance: Agriculture/Transportation/Semi-States - Ex Officio Member
  • Finance: Education - Ex Officio Member
  • Finance: Health and Human Services - Ex Officio Member
  • Finance: Joint Claims - Ex Officio Member
  • Finance: State Departments - Ex Officio Member
  • Rules and Administration
  • Rules and Administration: Personnel

72nd Legislative Session (1981-1982)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 04
Elected: 11/4/1980
Residence: Park Rapids
Term of Office: 1/6/1981 to 1/3/1983
Counties Represented: Beltrami, Cass, Hubbard, Itasca, Morrison, Wadena
Occupation: Businessman
Party: Democratic-Farmer-Labor
Committees:
  • Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • Elections and Reapportionment
  • Finance (Chair)
  • Rules and Administration
  • Rules and Administration: Personnel

71st Legislative Session (1979-1980) (second half of Senate term)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 04
Elected: 11/2/1976
Residence: Park Rapids
Term of Office: 1/4/1977 to 1/5/1981
Counties Represented: Beltrami, Cass, Hubbard, Itasca, Morrison, Wadena
Occupation: Businessman
Party: Democratic-Farmer-Labor
Committees:
  • Agriculture and Natural Resources (Chair)
  • Employment
  • Employment: Economic Development
  • Finance
  • Finance: State Departments
  • Rules and Administration
  • Rules and Administration: Personnel
  • Transportation: Pipelines-1979

70th Legislative Session (1977-1978)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 04
Elected: 11/2/1976
Residence: Park Rapids
Term of Office: 1/4/1977 to 1/5/1981
Counties Represented: Beltrami, Cass, Hubbard, Itasca, Morrison, Wadena
Occupation: Businessman
Party: Democratic-Farmer-Labor
Committees:
  • Agriculture and Natural Resources (Chair)
  • Employment
  • Employment: Economic Development
  • Finance
  • Finance: State Departments
  • Rules and Administration

69th Legislative Session (1975-1976) (second half of Senate term)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 04
Elected: 11/7/1972
Residence: Park Rapids
Term of Office: 1/2/1973 to 1/3/1977
Counties Represented: Beltrami, Cass, Hubbard, Itasca, Morrison, Wadena
Occupation: Businessman
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Democratic-Farmer-Labor Caucus
Committees:
  • Finance
  • Finance: State Departments II (Chair)
  • Finance: State Departments III and Semi-State Affairs
  • Local Government
  • Natural Resources and Agriculture
  • Natural Resources and Agriculture: Game and Fish
  • Natural Resources and Agriculture: Public Lands (Chair)

68th Legislative Session (1973-1974)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 04
Elected: 11/7/1972
Residence: Park Rapids
Term of Office: 1/2/1973 to 1/3/1977
Counties Represented: Beltrami, Cass, Hubbard, Itasca, Morrison, Wadena
Occupation: Furniture Business Owner
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Democratic-Farmer-Labor Caucus
Committees:
  • Finance
  • Finance: Administrative State Departments
  • Finance: Joint Claims
  • Finance: Natural Resources, Highways and Semi-State
  • Local Government
  • Natural Resources and Agriculture
  • Natural Resources and Agriculture: Game and Fish
  • Natural Resources and Agriculture: Public Lands (Chair)

67th Legislative Session (1971-1972)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 65
Elected: 11/3/1970
Residence: Park Rapids
Term of Office: 1/5/1971 to 1/1/1973
Counties Represented: Becker, Clearwater, Hubbard, Mahnomen
Occupation: Furniture Business Owner
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Liberal Caucus
Committees:
  • Agriculture
  • Elections and Reapportionment
  • Health and Welfare
  • Natural Resoures and Environment
Articles & Books About
"Gerald L. "Jerry" Willet." The Bemidji Pioneer, September 17, 2017.


Archive Collections
Gerald L. Willet Legislative Files, 1972-1987 (bulk 1977-1987) - Available in the Minnesota Historical Society's Collections

The Minnesota Legislative Reference Library has collected newspaper articles on legislators since 1973. They are available in the Library.