HomeTop StoriesMinnesota political reporter Gene Lahammer has died at the age of 90

Minnesota political reporter Gene Lahammer has died at the age of 90

Gene Lahammer, longtime political reporter from Minnesota, has passed away. He was 90.

Lahammer, who worked at The Associated Press for 34 years, died Monday morning at his home in Minnetonka of old age, his daughter Mary Lahammer told the AP.

Lahammer was born and raised on a farm in Veblen, South Dakota, during the Great Depression.

His journalism career has roots in his high school newspaper, where he was an editor. He graduated from high school at 16 and college at 18, “a numerical genius” who recognized his intellect as “a way out of poverty, and he grew up in destitute poverty,” said his daughter.

Her father read the entire library — even encyclopedias and dictionaries for fun — understood Latin, and he cultivated a vast vocabulary, she said.

After college, he taught students of all ages and grades simultaneously in a one-room schoolhouse in rural South Dakota.

Lahammer enlisted and served in the military, rising to the rank of intelligence officer. After leaving the military, he turned down a position in the Pentagon. He planned to study law. But his passion for journalism and writing became his calling, his daughter said.

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“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he ended up covering the legislation, and he has a family of lawyers and reporters covering the legislation, because he instilled a love of the law in all of us as well,” says Mary Lahammer, Twin Cities PBS host and political reporter, who has worked with her father all her life.

Lahammer’s specialty at the AP was calling out races on election night, which he did for 50 years after he retired.

“He never had a mistake in the race, and he did it all mostly in his head. I’m not sure he ever had a calculator, and he knew every district, county, and region of the state inside out, and he would.” know when it was safe to call a race,” his daughter said.

Lahammer called several friends of the Minnesota Supreme Court justices. Republican Governor Arne Carlson threw him a retirement party at the governor’s mansion.

“That’s the respect he earned and engendered on both sides of the aisle,” said Mary Lahammer.

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He also worked at the Star Tribune for 16 years.

His daughter said he accomplished several goals in his senior year: reach age 90, see his youngest grandchild graduate from high school, and walk his oldest daughter down the aisle.

A funeral is scheduled for Friday in Edina.

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