Former U.S. Representative Martin Olav Sabo ’59, who passed away on March 13 at age 78, was a lifelong public servant and renowned Augsburg College alumnus who exemplified the progressive approach and personal integrity that were modeled in his Lutheran upbringing and education.
The work he and his wife, Sylvia, devoted to guiding the Martin Olav Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship, the Sabo Scholars program, and the annual Sabo Symposium—all of which create opportunities for civic experiences and skill-building inside and outside the classroom—will leave a lasting legacy at Augsburg.
Augsburg College President Paul C. Pribbenow said that Sabo’s “life-long commitment to public service is an inspiration to all of us. The Sabo Center gives Augsburg the ongoing opportunity to celebrate the life and work of our dear friend.”
One year after graduating from Augsburg College, Sabo—then 22—was elected to serve in the Minnesota House of Representatives. During his tenure, he became the first member of the Democrat-Farmer-Labor party to serve as Speaker of the House—a post he held from 1973-78. He went on to serve for 28 years as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, retiring in 2007.
At the same time that Sabo served in Congress, he volunteered 12 years to Augsburg College as a member of the Board of Regents. The College named Sabo a Distinguished Alumnus and awarded him its first-ever honorary degree. Sabo was distinguished in all he undertook and, in 2006, was appointed Commander of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit for outstanding work and dedication to Norwegian-American relations.
Congressman Sabo and Sylvia Sabo are parents of Auggies Karin Mantor ’86 and Julie Sabo ’90.