Former North Dakota US Senator Mark Andrews dies at 94

Mark Andrews, former Republican senator from North Dakota. (Official congressional photo)

FARGO — Former longtime U.S. House member and U.S. Sen. Mark Andrews, whose daughter said he was "telling stories till the end," has died at age 94.

Andrews, who served in the House from 1963 to 1981 and then one term in the Senate until 1987, had been living independently with caregivers assisting him in a Fargo apartment.

His daughter, Sarah Andrews Herman, who lives on the longtime family farm near Mapleton with her husband, Doug, said her father still enjoyed until the end going out to the country to "look at the crops a couple times a week" and would share stories about his family, farm and the state.

His family had a rich history in North Dakota dating back to before statehood. His grandmother was the first woman physician in Dakota Territory when she moved to the area in 1877 after finding out she couldn't practice medicine in New York state.


Andrews, born in Fargo, was the son of Mark Andrews I, who was also known as the singing sheriff because he sang with the Metropolitan Opera in New York before returning to the family farm near Mapleton and marrying before becoming sheriff.

As a young boy, Andrews lived in the sheriff's house, a large brownstone behind the Cass County Courthouse in Fargo. His life abruptly changed at age 12 when his father was seriously injured during a high speed chase of bootleggers and then died.

In 1939, Andrews was in eighth grade at Agassiz Junior High in Fargo when he met his best friend, Mary Willming. They married 10 years later and celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary less than three weeks before his wife died this past July.

Andrews served in the military and attended North Dakota State University before he took over the family's crop farm and operated a cattle feedlot.

He became interested in politics along with his wife and won his seat in the U.S. House as a Republican in a special election after the death of Rep. Hjalmar Nygaard in 1963. He was reelected to the House eight times.

He won his U.S. Senate seat in November 1980 with 70% of the vote, but then was defeated in reelection in 1986 when he lost to former U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad by about 2,000 votes.

His daughter said her father's legislative achievements were helping with rural electrification across the state, working on numerous farm bills, the Garrison Diversion project, serving on the Senate Indian Affairs panel and bipartisan efforts on rural health care.


She said her father's bipartisan streak showed in his work on rural health care issues with U.S. Sens. Ted Stevens, an Alaska Republican, and Ted Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat.

In his obituary, his daughter said her father often said, "in those days people from both parties worked together and we got things done — Quentin Burdick (former N.D. senator) was a good Democrat and I was a good Republican but we were good friends and we worked together for North Dakota. This not working together is foolishness!"

Following his political career, Andrews and Jacqueline Balk-Tusa established a consulting firm based in Washington, D.C.

His daughter said she had "so many memories" of her father, who had a love for horses, cattle and dogs.

Andrews' family was on top of his list, his daughter said, as when they lived in Washington, D.C., for many years he bought a boat and most weekends they would go on Chesapeake Bay so the children would "stay away from drugs" in the capital city.

Andrews is survived by his sister, Barbara Bertel, son, Mark III (Sue) and another daughter, Karen. He also has several grand and great-grandchildren.

A private service is planned because of the pandemic. A link to the simulcast can be found at . Andrews' obituary does not list a date.

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