Former state House Speaker Rod Searle of Waseca dies at 93

Rod Searle, a former speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives, died Sunday in Waseca. He was 93.

Searle, a Republican, was first elected to the House in 1956. He served 24 years, the last two as speaker of an evenly-divided House. He retired from office after that stint.

The state Legislative Reference Library notes that he was president of the Minnesota State University System for a period ending in 1991.

Gov. Mark Dayton said in a statement today:

“I had the opportunity to work with former Speaker Rod Searle during his distinguished service in the Minnesota legislature. Rod was a principled leader, a dedicated public servant, and a true gentleman. He was elected Speaker of the House in 1979, because he held the respect and trust of both Republican and DFL members in that deadlocked chamber.”

The Mankato Free Press said that late in his life, Searle split with the Republican Party, saying: “My party has abandoned me.”

The paper said:

In 2010 Searle was among a group of Republican former lawmakers who endorsed Independence Party candidate for governor Tom Horner, rather than the Republican-endorsed candidate, Tom Emmer. The state Republican party took action against those in the group, preventing them from serving as delegates to the state or national party conventions for two years.

A funeral is scheduled for Friday in Owatonna.

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