Nick Coleman

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Nick Coleman
5th Minnesota Senate Majority Leader
In office
January 1973 – January 1981
Preceded byStanley W. Holmquist
Succeeded byRoger Moe
5th Minnesota Senate Minority Leader
In office
January 1971 – January 1973
Preceded byKarl F. Grittner
Succeeded byHarold G. Krieger
Minnesota State Senator
In office
Personal details
Nicholas David Coleman

February 23, 1925
Saint Paul, Minnesota
DiedMarch 5, 1981(1981-03-05) (aged 56)
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Political partyMinnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party
Spouse(s)Bridget Finnegan
Deborah Howell
ChildrenNicholas J., Patrick, Maureen, Brendan, Meghan, Christopher, Emmett.
Alma materCollege of St. Thomas
University of Minnesota
Occupationadvertising agency owner, legislator

Nicholas David Coleman (February 23, 1925 – March 5, 1981) was a Minnesota politician and a former member and majority leader of the Minnesota Senate. A Democrat, he was first elected in 1962 and reelected in 1966, 1970, 1972, and 1976, he represented the old districts 45, 46, and 65, which changed through the years due to legislative redistricting, and included portions of the city of Saint Paul in Ramsey County.[1]

Born in Saint Paul, Coleman served as a Signalman 2nd Class in the United States Navy during World War II, he entered politics as a volunteer for the 1948 congressional campaign of Eugene McCarthy, then a professor at the College of St. Thomas (now the University of St. Thomas), where Coleman was a student. He was later Minnesota chair for the 1964 presidential campaign of Lyndon Johnson.

While in the Senate, Coleman served as an assistant minority leader from 1967 to 1970, as minority leader during the 1971–1972 biennium, and as the first Democrat in 114 years to become majority leader—a position he held from 1973 until leaving the Senate in 1981; the Democrats have held the majority in that chamber of the Minnesota Legislature until January, 2011. He was an unsuccessful candidate for the DFL Party's endorsement for governor in 1970, and for the U.S. Senate in 1978.[1]

Coleman was a founder and partner of the advertising agency Coleman-Goff Advertising, later known as Coleman and Christison, he was the father of Chris Coleman, the former mayor of St. Paul, of Minnesota journalist Nick Coleman, and of the Acquisitions Librarian at the Minnesota Historical Society Library, Patrick K. Coleman.[1] Prior to his career in advertising, he was a high school teacher for two years in the rural town of Tyler, Minnesota.

Coleman was married twice, he left his first wife, the mother of his seven children, to marry Deborah Howell, who was 14 years his junior. The divorce and betrayal cost him his relationship with then-governor Rudy Perpich, who was a devout Catholic.[2]

Coleman died of leukemia on March 5, 1981, his body lay in state in the Minnesota State Capitol before burial in Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis.[3]


  1. ^ a b c "Minnesota Legislators Past & Present – Legislator Record – Coleman, Nicholas D". Retrieved July 20, 2010.
  2. ^ Wilson, Betty (2005). Rudy! the People's Governor. Nodin Press. ISBN 9781932472271.
  3. ^ "Nicholas David Coleman (1925–1981) – Find A Grave Memorial". Retrieved July 20, 2010.


  • Lacy, Robert. "A Very Fine Fellow from Frogtown. Remembering Nick Coleman – from Many Viewpoints." Minnesota Law and Politics, February/March 2009, p. 12–16.
  • Milton, John Watson, "Five Sons of Erin at the State Capitol," 'Ramsey County History' Magazine, Spring 2009
  • Milton, John Watson, "How the Adman Became the Senator from Ramsey," Ramsey County History Magazine, Spring 2011
  • Milton, John Watson, For the Good of the Order, the life and times of Minnesota's Senator Nick Coleman, to be published in 2011

External links[edit]