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Minn. lawmakers pause to remember late Sen. Kubly

The front corner desk where DFL Sen. Gary Kubly of Granite Falls sat is decorated Monday with his picture and flowers. Kubly, who died Friday, was honored with a moment of silence by state lawmakers. Tribune photo by Don Davis

Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem walked across the front of the Minnesota Senate chamber Monday, pausing at a desk decorated with flowers and a photo of Sen. Gary Kubly. "He was a great guy," Senjem said about the Granite Falls lawmaker who died Friday. "We will really miss him."

The desk is where Kubly sat this year, as Lou Gehrig's disease drained his energy.

Senjem, a Rochester Republican, said senators respected Democrat Kubly. "Gary Kubly never had a cross word about anybody."

Senjem canceled all Senate meetings for Wednesday and House Speaker Kurt Zellers called off all House proceedings until 4:30 p.m. so lawmakers may attend Kubly's funeral.

Senate and House members planned to take buses to the funeral. Gov, Mark Dayton also plans to attend. The governor is expected to call a special election to fill Kubly's seat.

Kubly, 68, died in a St. Paul hospital Friday after suffering a medical problem Wednesday morning. He was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease, also known as ALS, in 2010 and his health gradually failed since then.

Kubly, who was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa, was a Lutheran pastor. He served in the Minnesota Legislature since 1997.

The funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Granite Falls Lutheran Church. Visitation is to be 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the church and an hour prior to the service.

Senators and representatives paused for a moment of silence Monday in honor of Kubly.

"I think his pastoral approach to life is much needed in politics," said Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, whose father was a minister.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said Kubly was a quiet man who helped a lot of people.

"Whether you are a farmer, a college student, a teacher or a nurse, in fact, if you are any Minnesotan who wants state government to make your life better, then I would say you, too, have lost a friend on Friday night," Bakk said.

Even as Kubly's health failed in recent months, Rep. Andrew Falk, DFL-Murdock, said, "He never focused on what he couldn't do; he focused on what he could do."

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.