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Forum News Service, Published January 06 2014

Ex-Minnesota House speaker Searle dies

WASECA, Minn. - A southern Minnesota farmer who became speaker of the state House died Sunday in his hometown of Waseca.

Rod Searle, 93, served in the House from 1957 to 1981. He also was president of the Minnesota State University System for a time.

In his last two years as a representative, Searle served a speaker of a House evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. Later in life, he turned away from Republicans and in 2010 endorsed Tom Horner, the Independence Party governor candidate.

"Rod was a principled leader, a dedicated public servant and a true gentleman," Gov. Mark Dayton said. "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."

His funeral is scheduled for Friday in Owatonna.