Samatar, 1st Somali elected to Minn. office, dies

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Hussein Samatar, a Minneapolis school board member who became the first Somali elected to public office in Minnesota, has died at the age of 45 of complications from leukemia.

Samatar was elected to the Minneapolis Board of Education in 2010. He also founded the African Development Center, a nonprofit group that helps members of the African community start and sustain businesses.

He first entered public office when Mayor R. T. Rybak appointed him to the Minneapolis Library Board of Trustees in 2006. Rybak remembers him as “an extraordinary leader.”

Samatar graduated from Somalia’s National University in 1991, but four days later a civil war erupted that claimed the lives of his sister and friends.

Funeral services will be held Monday at 1 p.m. at Burnsville Masjid.

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