May 20, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Minnesota business and political leader, sports booster and philanthropist Wheelock Whitney Jr. died Friday. He was 89.

Whitney died in hospice care at his home in Independence of natural causes, his son, Ben Whitney, a former U.S. ambassador to Norway, told The Associated Press.

''Wheelock Whitney was an outstanding and influential civic leader throughout his life. He was also a very dear family friend,'' Gov. Mark Dayton said in a statement.

Wheelock Whitney, whose fraternity brothers at Yale University included former President George H.W. Bush, was born to a prominent family in St. Cloud. He was CEO from 1963-1972 of the investment banking firm Dain and Co., which he helped turn into a regional financial powerhouse and eventually became RBC Wealth Management.

He was also instrumental in bringing major league baseball and hockey to the Twin Cities. He served on the board of the Twins for 24 years and was a member of the investors group that was awarded an NHL expansion franchise in 1966, which became the Minnesota North Stars. He was also one of 10 co-owners of the Minnesota Vikings who sold the team to Red McCombs in 1998.

The moderate Republican ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1982, losing to Democrat Rudy Perpich, and for the U.S. Senate in 1964, when he lost to Sen. Eugene McCarthy. He was one of a handful of prominent Minnesota Republicans who spoke out against and donated money to defeat a proposed amendment to the state constitution to ban gay marriage in 2012.

Whitney is survived by his wife, former Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz, whom he married in 2005, and his children, Wheelock Whitney III, Pennell Whitney, Joseph Whitney and Ben Whitney. His first wife, Irene Whitney, died in 1985.

Ben Whitney said his father's goal was to live until his 10th anniversary with Blatz, then make it to his 90th birthday.

''He's such a goal-setter,'' he said. ''He'll be disappointed by not making his goal.''

Wheelock and Irene Whitney also helped found the nonprofit Johnson Institute, which pioneered the intervention approach to alcohol and drug addiction treatment, and became part of what's now the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.

Services are pending, Ben Whitney said.

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