Mondale, who served as vice president under Democratic President Jimmy Carter, died at 93 in April of last year.
“There are two ways of spreading light — to be a candle or the mirror that reflects it. Fritz was both the candle and the mirror in my view,” Biden said during the memorial service at the University of Minnesota.
Throughout his remarks, the President recalled his decades-long friendship with Mondale as he urged the nation to follow the late Minnesotan’s example. “He was loved by the American people because he reflected the goodness of the American people,” Biden said.
In a particularly poignant moment, the President recalled the tragic car accident in which his then-wife Neilia Hunter Biden and daughter Naomi died, and talked about how Mondale and his wife, the late Joan Mondale, were there for him.
“They helped me find my purpose in a sea of darkness and pain,” Biden said.
In an email to former staffers obtained by CNN at the time of his death, Mondale acknowledged in a moving message that his “time has come.”
“Before I Go I wanted to let you know how much you mean to me. Never has a public servant had a better group of people working at their side! Together we have accomplished so much and I know you will keep up the good fight,” Mondale wrote.
“Joe in the White House certainly helps,” he added in reference to the President. “I always knew it would be okay if I arrived some place and was greeted by one of you!”