Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
The spirit was there, unquenchable and unstoppable, if the man could not be.
Thursday, in an outpouring of respect and affection, more than 2,000 persons came for an evening in honor of Hubert H. Humphrey. THe Minnesota senator, taking chemotherapy treatments for terminal cancer, could not make it form Minneapolis. But itwas a night with the Humphrey spirit - good cheer, good talk, and good memories.
But, never one to miss the opportunity for a word, at half an hour before midnight, there was Hubert on the line from Minneapolis and joking about not wanting to be guilty of "talking into two days."
He apoligized for his absence, but said there were the treatments to be taken, and then President Carter was coming by on Air Force One on Sunday to take him back to Washington for the first time since his operation in mid-August.
"After all, I've trying to get on Air Force One for a long, long time," said the Minnesota senator who never became president but left o political legacy of leadership on such legislation at civil rights, the Job Corps and nuclear nonproliferation.
Vice President Mondale, the political protege of Humphrey who is heading the drive for funds for a Hubert Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, said the institute could have no higher values than those that have marked the senator's life - "enthusiam . . . unending optimism, eternal caring, always trying and always striving, never accepting less than the best."
On the telephone line, Humphrey, in a voice at first a little low and husky but becoming as strong and vibrant as ever, spoke of the future in the institute where he is to have a "little office . . . so I can philosophize, and talk and visit with the young people who are going to shape our future."
His colsing words to his "friends in politics" were: "Have fun. Live it up. Then the next day go to work."
It was a measure of the man that people from such different political persuasions, beliefs, colors and backgrounds came to a $50-a-plate dinner to contribute to the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. There were cabinet officers, past and present; labor leader; congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle; rabbis and priests, young congressional aides, retired Hill secretaries and black leaders.
Until a few days ago, Humphrey had planned to attend the gala dinner Thursday at the Washington Hilton, sponsored by the Minnesota State Society, and then go back to Minneapolis for treatments if necessary. But he physically wasn't up to it.
Lorne Greene, the TV star, who was master of ceremonies Thursday, made a stop in Minneapolis earlier in the day and chatted 15 minutes with Sen. Humphrey.
"I said 'Hello' and I said 'Goodbye.' In between the senator talked," Green reported. Humphrey had told friends that he didn't want the party to be a "maudlin" affair, and wanted "a happy time for everyone." For those there, who remembered Humphrey's unabashed zest for life, even though he knew it was mixed with disappointment and adversity, it was a happy time for memories of the senator.
Mark Russell, dean of the capital's political satirists, recalled a true Humphrey story of how the senator, while out on the political stump, was hit by a tomato from the crowd and ad libbed: "Speaking of agriculture" and immediately launched into a long speech.