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Sen. Dayton's mother dies after long illness

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Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- Gwendolen MacPhail, mother of Minnesota Sen. Mark Dayton and wife of a former major league baseball executive, has died after a lengthy illness. She was 82.

MacPhail died Monday afternoon in Florida at the Hospice by the Sea in Boca Raton. She had not regained consciousness since she fell into a coma last week after first being hospitalized Nov. 13, said Dayton, who was at his mother's side during the weekend.

"We will miss her," he said.

Dayton said his mother was "very devoted to her family," including four children, nine grandchildren and seven step-grandchildren.

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MacPhail was born Gwendolen Brandt on July 12, 1920, in Columbus, Ohio, where she spent her childhood. She won a scholarship to attend Smith College in Northampton, Mass., and graduated magna cum laude in 1942. After college, she moved to New York City, where in 1944 she married Bruce B. Dayton, a Minneapolis merchant and department store heir. Bruce Dayton rose to become chairman, president and chief executive officer of Dayton-Hudson Corp., the retail giant now known as Target Corp.

During most of their nearly 28 years of marriage, the Daytons lived in Orono, Minn., where they raised four children: Mark, the freshman Democratic senator; Brandt, a psychotherapist in New York City; Lucy O'Keefe, a veterinarian in Helena, Mont., whose husband, Mark, is a former state auditor and unsuccessful Democratic gubernatorial candidate; and Anne Buxton, an artist in New York City.

Gwen Dayton served on the boards of Northwestern Hospital, now known as Abbott Northwestern Hospital, and Amicus, a nonprofit group that supported first-time criminal offenders during and after their incarcerations.

After her first marriage ended in divorce in 1972, she moved back to New York. An avid fan of the Minnesota Twins baseball team, she was soon introduced to the American League's new president, Leland MacPhail Jr., a former general manager of the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees franchises. They were married in 1974.

MacPhail remained league president until 1983, before heading the baseball owners' committee that negotiates contracts with the players union. MacPhail's son, Andy, became general manager of the Twins in 1986 and assembled the teams that won world championships in 1987 and 1991. His stepmother attended a number of the World Series games.

"My mother loved baseball," Dayton said. "She went to the very first Twins game back in 1961 and as many games thereafter as she could talk my father into going to or take us to."

MacPhail is survived by her 85-year-old husband, four children, and 16 grandchildren and step-grandchildren.

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