Minnesota State Sen. Jerry Relph dies from complications due to COVID-19

Minnesota State Sen. Jerry Relph (R-St. Cloud) died Thursday due to complications from COVID-19 according to sources that confirmed the death with KSTP’s Tom Hauser.

In a statement, Relph’s wife, Pegi Broker-Relph said,

"I’m heartbroken to share that my husband, Jerry Relph, has passed away and entered his heavenly home. Jerry was a beloved husband, father, and grandfather. He was a Marine Corps veteran who served in Vietnam, an attorney, small businessman, and dedicated public servant in the Minnesota Senate."

"Jerry dedicated his life to service and representing Senate District 14 was one of the highest honors he had.I can’t count the number of times he would come home at night and tell me about helping solve a constituent’s problem, or a story he heard from someone in a parade or at a public event, or even just someone he met during a ‘day on the hill’ event. He loved serving the people of St. Cloud in the Senate, and he cherished every minute of it. Jerry loved diving into the issues, finding compromise, and working together to solve problems and I have no doubt he would have continued solving problems outside the legislature."

"I’d like to thank everyone at the legislature for the relationships and sense of family you provided for us over the last four years. I am profoundly grateful for all the love and support our family has received. From the bottom of my heart, thank you."

Majority Leader Gazelka added,

"Senator Jerry Relph was a true friend and colleague loved by so many. For four years, he rolled up his sleeves and tackled tough issues for our state. Senator Relph will always be remembered as a dedicated public servant. He was already thinking of ways to have an impact on his community after narrowly losing his re-election. We are deeply saddened by his passing and offer our prayers and support to the Relph family."

Gov. Tim Walz said in a tweet "Terrible news. As a Vietnam veteran, small business owner and State Senator, Jerry lived his entire life in service to his community. Gwen and I are keeping his family in our prayers."

Senator Susan Kent also released the following statement about Relph:

"My deepest condolences go out to Jerry’s family and loved ones. He was a dedicated public servant and a truly kind man," said Kent. "He worked tirelessly to improve the lives of Minnesotans and he will be sincerely missed."

Relph contracted COVID-19 after exposure at a Republican Caucus meeting on Nov. 5 that saw multiple other Republican Senators contract the virus.

Minnesota State Sen. Jerry Relph tests positive for COVID-19 as outbreak in Republican caucus expands

Sen. Relph was notified of his exposure and began self quarantining on Nov. 10. He began experiencing symptoms on Nov. 13. Relph was not in attendance at the most recent special sessions.

Relph represented the 14th district that includes much of St. Cloud. He was beaten by DFL candidate Aric Putnam by just over 300 votes in the 2020 election and was set to leave office in Jan.

Sen. Relph began serving in the Minnesota Senate in 2017 after defeating DFL candidate Dan Wolgamott by 148 votes in the 2016 election.

Relph earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from Carleton College in 1966 before earning his Juris Doctor from William Mitchell College of Law in 1974.

He is the first Minnesota legislator to die from COVID-19.

He was 76-years-old.

The family has asked for privacy during this time.