Minnesota Senator and presidential hopeful Amy Klobuchar often talks about her father, Jim. Jim Klobuchar was born and raised in Ely, Minnesota, the grandson of immigrants from Eastern Europe. He was the first in his family to go to college, and grew up to become a newspaperman who wrote several books. But Jim Klobuchar also struggled with alcoholism and was repeatedly arrested for drunk driving, something which Amy Klobuchar has discussed. He eventually quit drinking in the 1990s, according to Klobuchar’s memoir. Here’s what you need to know about Jim Klobuchar:
1. He Was a Sports Reporter, Covering the Minnesota Vikings for the Minnesota Star
Jim Klobuchar was born and raised in Minnesota and worked as a journalist, writing for daily newspaper, radio, and television. Klobuchar spent years writing for the Minneapolis Star, where he covered Minnesota Vikings. For 30 years, he wrote a daily column for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Klobuchar has also written a number of books, touching on subjects as wide-ranging as football, Minnesota heroes, and religion.
2. He Wrote a Memoir About His Struggles with Alcoholism & Said Amy Helped the Family Stage an Intervention
Jim Klobuchar is the author of several books about the Minnesota Vikings; he’s also the author of a memoir. The book — Pursued by Grace: A Newspaperman’s Own Story of Spiritual Recovery — describes his struggles with alcoholism and his divorce from Amy’s mother. The book also describes an intervention, staged by his family and led by Amy. A brief blurb on Amazon describes the book as follows: “This story of one man’s spiritual journey through doubt, alcoholism, divorce, and illness to a relationship with God and the fellowship of the church offers inspiration and guidance for all who struggle with faith and long for inner peace and the experience of God’s grace.”
Amy told Vogue Magazine years later about some of her memories of her father’s drinking. She said, “When you’re only seventeen years old, and you’re going up with your dad to visit your grandma for Christmas, and you see him drinking out of the trunk, and you have to say, ‘No, I’m taking the keys away,’ yeah, that doesn’t happen to most kids that age.”
Klobuchar told Vogue that she is a social drinker and said she’s very aware of the power of alcohol; she told the magazine that she’s very careful never to have more than one or two glasses of wine.
3. Amy Said Her Father Taught Her the Value of Service, Good Will, & Humor
Amy Klobuchar has some dark memories of her father — she has described his multiple DWI arrests, and as a 17 year old she had to step in to take away his car keys after seeing him “drinking out of his trunk.” But the Minnestota Senator also says that her father taught her the value of “service” and gave her some tools for making her way through life. She described some of the gifts her father had given her in a Facebook post on Father’s Day, 2018, writing,
“Happy Father’s Day to all the dads, especially my two personal favorites — my husband John and my dad Jim. My dad taught me that service matters and that the journey up the mountain is so much lighter if your backpack is filled with goodwill and good humor. And my wonderful husband John is a great dad to our daughter Abigail. Here are two of my favorite pictures from many years ago of Abigail and me with each of our dads!”
4. Jim Klobuchar’s Father Was a Miner Who Saved Money in a Coffee Can So He Could Send His Son to College
Amy Klobuchar often talks about her grandfather and his story. Klobuchar’s grandfather was the son of Slovenian immigrants who settled in Minnesota. When he was in the ninth grade, Klobuchar’s grandfather dropped out of school and went to work as a iron miner at the Zenith mine in Ely, Minnesota.
Klobuchar also praised her grandfather for his hard work and for his dedication to his children. Klobuchar said her grandfather saved his money in a coffee can so that his son — Amy’s father — would be able to go to college. Klobuchar wrote about the experience, saying, “My grandpa worked in the mines in Ely for most of his life. He never graduated from high school but he saved money in a coffee can in the basement to send my dad to college. I learned the Iron Range values of hard work and perseverance from my parents and grandparents, and I carried them with me to the Senate.”
5. Jim Asked His Wife for a Divorce on Thanksgiving Day, 1975
Amy Klobuchar’s parents divorced when she was 15 years old. Klobuchar wrote about the divorce in her memoir, “The Senator Next Door,” describing the moment she overheard her father telling her mother that he wanted to end the marriage. It was Thanksgiving, and Amy was 15 years old. Jim later wrote that although he was the one asking for a divorce, there was no real provocation; he said that he was “another middle aged man with wanderlust.” Amy remembers that her mother afterwards went on with her life without resentment or rage, even though money was tight and life was not easy.
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this report said Jim Klobuchar’s father worked as a coal miner. He worked at an iron mine.