Muriel Fay Humphrey Brown (née Buck; February 20, 1912 – September 20, 1998) was an American politician who served as the Second Lady of the United States and as a U.S. Senator from Minnesota. She was married to the 38th Vice President of the United States, Hubert Humphrey. Following her husband's death, she was appointed to his seat in the United States Senate, serving for most of the year 1978, thus becoming the first woman to serve as a Senator from Minnesota, and the only Second Lady of the United States to hold public office. After leaving office, she remarried and took the name Muriel Humphrey Brown.
Born Muriel Fay Buck in Huron, South Dakota, she attended Huron College from 1931 to 1932, meeting a young pharmacist named Hubert Horatio Humphrey, Jr. during that time. On September 3, 1936, they married; within a year, Muriel began helping to fund her husband’s college education at the University of Minnesota and his graduate studies at Louisiana State University. Hubert Humphrey went on to teach political science at the University of Minnesota and at Macalester College during World War II. He also served as the state chief of the Minnesota war service program and as assistant director of the War Manpower Commission in 1943. Two years later, he launched a long and storied political career, rising from mayor of Minneapolis to United States Senator and, ultimately, Vice President. Muriel Humphrey played an indirect part in her husband’s early political career, keeping a certain distance between her role as mother and Hubert’s public life, but also assisting him as an informal advisor.
After his unsuccessful campaign for the presidency in 1968, Hubert Humphrey was again elected to the Senate from Minnesota in 1970. He won re-election in 1976 but was diagnosed with terminal cancer and passed away in January 1978. Minnesota Governor Rudy Perpich appointed Muriel Humphrey less than two weeks later, on January 25, 1978, to serve in her husband’s Senate seat until a special election could be held later that fall to fill the remaining four years of his term. After consulting with President Jimmy Carter, Muriel chose not to stand as a candidate for the special election for the remaining term, leaving office on November 7.
After completing her Senate service, Humphrey retired to Excelsior, Minnesota. In 1981, she married an old family friend and widower whom she had known since her high school days, Max Brown. The couple settled in Plymouth, Minnesota, where Humphrey Brown spent time with her family and largely away from the political spotlight. In 1998 during Hubert Humphrey III’s campaign for governor of Minnesota, she appeared on the campaign trail with him. That fall, Muriel Buck Humphrey Brown passed away in Minneapolis.