Former Gov. Rudy Perpich, Minnesota's longest-serving and most colorful governor who held the office for a decade, died of colon cancer Sept. 21 at his home in Minnetonka, Minn. He was 67.

Gov. Perpich, a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, was a strong supporter of education, economic development and innovative public policy. He promoted development of St. Paul's World Trade Center, a state arts high school and the country's biggest mall, Mall of America, in suburban Minneapolis.

He said he was proud of the number of women and minorities he appointed and boasted after leaving office, "We took pride in the barriers we broke down."

When he left office in 1991, Minnesota was the only state with a majority of women on its Supreme Court.

Gov. Perpich said the highlight of his career was when Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev and his wife accepted his invitation to visit Minnesota in 1990.

Newsweek magazine dubbed him "Governor Goofy" in 1990 for his idiosyncratic ways. These included such quirky ideas as selling the governor's mansion, saying it was falling apart. Another time, he erected a billboard in protest when he wasn't allowed to have a portrait of himself with his wife in the capitol.

His first stint as governor came about in an unorthodox manner.

Wendell Anderson (DFL) resigned as governor in December 1976, so then-Lt. Gov. Perpich would succeed him as governor and appoint Anderson to the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by Walter F. Mondale, who had resigned to become Jimmy Carter's vice president.

Gov. Perpich was defeated in 1978 by Al Quie (R) in the so-called Minnesota Massacre, when the Democrats lost the governorship, both U.S. Senate seats and control of the Minnesota House. He made a comeback in 1982 and remained in office until 1990, when he was defeated by Gov. Arne Carlson in his bid for an unprecedented fourth term.

He contemplated another run for governor in 1994 but decided Minnesotans weren't ready for his ideas yet and said he would put it off until 1998.

Gov. Perpich was born in Carson Lake, Minn. The son of an immigrant Croatian miner, he didn't speak English when he entered first grade. He was a product of the populist rough-and-tumble Democratic politics of northeastern Minnesota's Iron Range.

He served in the Army in 1946 and 1947, then graduated from Marquette University dental school in Milwaukee in 1954 and made a career as a dentist. He served in the Minnesota state Senate from 1963 to 1971, then as lieutenant governor until taking over the governorship in December 1976.

Survivors include his wife, the former Lola Simic of Minnetonka, and two children. JOHN V. O'CONNOR Jesuit Priest

John V. O'Connor, 79, a Jesuit priest who worked at various assignments in the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington since 1968, died of cancer Sept. 21 at Campion Center in Weston, Mass.

Father O'Connor, who lived in Washington until earlier this year when his illness forced him to take leave, was a special consultant with the office of interreligious and ecumenical affairs in Washington for four years beginning in 1991.

He arrived in Washington in 1968 to become executive director of the Jesuit conference of the American provincial superiors. He was a director with the office of social development with the Archdiocese of Washington from 1980 to 1991.

Father O'Connor was born in Cambridge, Mass. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1933. He completed his studies at Weston College and was ordained in the priesthood in 1945. He received master's degrees in philosophy and the classics from Boston College and a doctorate in theology from the Gregorian University of Rome.

He taught theology at Weston College, where he was dean from 1951 to 1954 and later was named rector. He leaves no immediate survivors. JOSEPH O. THOMPSON SR. Army Sergeant

Joseph O. Thompson Sr., 65, a retired Army sergeant first class who helped create the Advisory Neighborhood Commission in his native Washington, died of lung cancer Sept. 21 at his home in Washington.

He joined the Army in 1948, shortly after graduating from Armstrong Senior High School. Mr. Thompson, a veteran of the Korean War, served as a radar and demolition instructor before retiring from active duty in 1968.

After that, he returned to the District and worked as a paratechnical adviser for five years at the Federal Communications Commission, researching licenses for television and radio broadcasters. He later joined the law firm Jeremiah Courtney as a paralegal technician, retiring again in 1993.

Mr. Thompson became involved with a myriad of neighborhood groups in Southeast Washington, where he lived. He helped establish the Advisory Neighborhood Commission and participated in city planning council meetings. He developed a plan for the transfer of federal land, which served as home to the 6th Police District Boys and Girls Club and the Benning-Stoddert Recreation Center.

He was a Cub Scout den master and a past president of the Fort Dupont Civic Association and the Kelly-Miller Junior High School PTA. He operated a concessions stand in Fort Dupont Park and employed 300 people during the nine years of his contract with the National Park Service.

Survivors include his wife of 42 years, Constance M. Thompson of Washington; four sons, Joseph Jr. and Alan, both of Washington, Gerald, of Memphis, and Brian, of Indianapolis; two daughters, Angela Murphy and Tina Thompson, both of Washington; a brother, Lloyd Thompson of Washington; and five sisters, Esther Hardy of Boston, Madeline Thompson of Washington, Julia Higgons of Clinton and Shirley Jackson and Lorretta Thompson, both of Warsaw, Va. CAPTION: RUDY PERPICH