Mondale, who served as vice president under Democratic President Jimmy Carter, died at 93 in April of last year.
“There are two ways to spread the light – to be a candle or a mirror to reflect it,” Biden said during the memorial service at the University of Minnesota. “Fritz was the candle and the mirror in my view.”
During his remarks, the president recalled his decades-long friendship with Mondel as he urged the nation to follow the example of the late Minnesota. “He was loved by the American people because he reflected the good of the American people,” Biden said.
In a particularly poignant moment, the president recalled the tragic car accident in which his then-wife Neelia Hunter Biden and daughter Naomi died, and spoke about how Mondale and his late wife Joan Mondel were there for him.
“They helped me find my purpose in a sea of darkness and pain,” Biden said.
In an email to former employees obtained by CNN at the time of his death, Mondel acknowledged in a touching letter that his “time has come.”
“Before I go, I wanted to tell you how much you mean to me. A public servant has never had a better group of people working alongside them! We have accomplished so much together and I know you will continue the good struggle,” Mondel wrote.
“Atmosphere in the White House certainly helps,” he added, referring to the president. “I always knew it would be fine if I got somewhere and one of you greeted me!”