John Blatnik

John Anton Blatnik (August 17, 1911 – December 17, 1991) was a United States Congressman from Minnesota. He was a member of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL), which is affiliated with the Democratic Party.

John Anton Blatnik
in 1950s
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Minnesota's 8th district
In office
January 3, 1947 – December 31, 1974
Preceded byWilliam Pittenger
Succeeded byJim Oberstar
Member of the Minnesota Senate
In office
Personal details
Born(1911-08-17)August 17, 1911
Chisholm, Minnesota
DiedDecember 17, 1991(1991-12-17) (aged 80)
Forest Heights, Maryland
Political partyDemocratic-Farmer-Labor Party
Spouse(s)Gisela Hager
Evelyn Castiglioni

Early lifeEdit

Blatnik was born in Chisholm, Minnesota, to Slovene immigrant parents.[1] He graduated from Winona State Teachers College (today Winona State University) and worked as a chemistry teacher in Chisholm.


From 1940 to 1944, he served in the Minnesota State Senate and volunteered to serve in the United States Army Air Corps in 1942. While in the Army Air Corps (the predecessor to the Air Force), he was chief of the Office of Strategic Services's mission with Tito's Yugoslav partisans for almost a year.[2]

In 1946, Blatnik was elected to Congress representing Minnesota's 8th District in the northeastern part of the state, running on the newly unified ticket of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. He was reelected 13 times without much difficulty. He served in the 80th, 81st, 82nd, 83rd, 84th, 85th, 86th, 87th, 88th, 89th, 90th, 91st, 92nd, and 93rd congresses, (January 3, 1947 – December 31, 1974).

In 1963, Blatnik, introduced a bill to make Leif Erikson Day a nationwide observance. The following year Congress adopted this unanimously.

Blatnik voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964.[3] He was an early supporter of the Saint Lawrence Seaway and helped develop the original legislation to build it. He served as chairman of the Public Works Committee (now known as the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee) during his last two terms in Congress. As chairman, he shepherded the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, better known as the Clean Water Act, to passage in 1972.

Upon retirement, Blatnik endorsed his long-time administrative assistant, Jim Oberstar, to replace him in Congress; Oberstar won easily in the 1974 election.

Personal life and deathEdit

In 1955, Blatnik married the former Gisela Hager. They had three children. Blatnik died in Forest Heights, Maryland on December 17, 1991. He was survived by his second wife, the former Evelyn Castiglioni.


The bridge for Interstate 535 crossing the Superior Bay and the Saint Louis Bay between Wisconsin and Minnesota was renamed the John A. Blatnik Bridge in his honor on September 24, 1971.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "United States Census, 1920", FamilySearch, retrieved March 18, 2018
  2. ^ "clinton / glossary / o / john blatnik". April 18, 2005. Archived from the original on April 18, 2005.
  3. ^ "H.R. 7152. CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1964. ADOPTION OF A ... -- House Vote #182 -- Jul 2, 1964".

External linksEdit

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Minnesota's 8th congressional district

Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Chairman of House Public Works Committee
Succeeded by