By Tim Harlow
On the night she suffered the stroke that led to her death, Josephine Dishuck Nunn stood in front of the Robbinsdale City Council advocating that a special unit for those suffering from Alzheimer's disease be allowed at Copperfield Hill, the senior center where she lived.
Nunn had plenty of experience with public meetings. She had served, as a member of the Metropolitan Council, the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, the Metropolitan Airports Commission, and as mayor of Champlin from 1971 to 1983.
"She was the grande dame of Champlin and a guiding light for the community, not just Champlin, but the whole metro area," said Champlin City Council member Julia Whalen. "She was not just a name on the roster. She was active and she cared deeply about each one. She helped so many people."
Nunn died last March 13 . She was 90.
Her career as a public servant began after she raised her children and served as a 4H Club and Girl Scout leader and Sunday school teacher, said her daughter, Rosalie Ambrosino, of San Antonio.
She was elected Champlin's mayor at the time Champlin Village and Champlin Township merged, and for 12 years gave vision to the community as it grew from a largely rural area into a suburb, said Dan Hartman, the city's first city administrator.
"She was phenomenal," he said. "They needed somebody to lead them, and she did."
She served as president of the League of Minnesota Cities from 1982 to 1983, and sat on the board of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission when it was devising plans to build the Metrodome. She was active with committees that studied plans for the Mall of America in Bloomington, and from 1983 to 1989 she was a member of the Metropolitan Council, which in 1991 named her its regional citizen of the year.
Her biggest legacy may have been mentoring others and encouraging other women to run for public office.
"She never said, 'I know better than you,' but 'Let's do this together,'" Whalen said. "She had a desire to help."
In appreciation for her efforts, the city of Champlin dedicated Josephine Nunn Park in her honor. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. May 1 in the park at 12790 Monticello Lane, not far from the old farmhouse where she raised her family. A mural inside the Champlin Public Library also pays tribute to Nunn, who was an member of the Friends of the Champlin Library and "had a thirst for reading and knowledge," her daughter said.
In recent years, Nunn, who survived breast cancer twice, was known as the "Mother of Copperfield Hill," Ambrosino said. As chairwoman of the Residents Council, she was in charge of the library and organized crossword puzzle group and a book club.
In addition to her daughter Rosalie, Nunn is survived by two other daughters, Martha Aron of Atlanta and Sarah Nunn of Duluth; a son, Bill, of Medina ; eight grandchildren and 12 grandchildren.