MANKATO — KEYC TV in Mankato had been on the air two years at the start of this period; at the end of it, gasoline was 89 cents a gallon and Mike Tyson had become the youngest heavyweight boxing champion in history.
And on the local front:
* Former Mankato attorney Robert Sheran achieved a singular distinction in 1973 when DFL Gov. Wendell Anderson appointed him chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court after serving as an associate justice appointee by previous Gov. Elmer L. Anderson, a Republican.
Sheran, who died in January 2012, remains the only person to have been appointed to the state’s high court twice by governors of different political parties.
In 2007 Sheran was named one of the 100 most influential lawyers in state history by Minnesota Law and Politics magazine.
* In 1977 Mankato-born and educated John Roberts reached the pinnacle of his military career when he was promoted to the rank of general in the U.S. Air Force.
The highly decorated Roberts, who served in World War II, the Korean War and in Vietnam, once joshed that his performances as a fighter pilot were not free of pilot error.
Of cracking up an F-86 in the woods of Michigan he said this: “The only thing left after the crash were the engine and me.”
* Marian Anderson moved to Mankato in 1958 and within a few years established herself as a wildlife and western artist of national repute.
But it was her “second calling” that cemented her status as chronicler of the community’s past. It might be said that if something of note ever existed in the Mankato area, chances are Anderson has immortalized it on canvas.
Her sentimental nostalgic montages and savvy skill at promoting her works kept her in the forefront of popular local art through the 1970s, 1980s and beyond.
* When Mankato State College erupted in the spring of 1972 into a tempest of protest against the Vietnam War, President James Nickerson rose to the challenge.
During what he later would wryly dub his “Seven Days in May,” Nickerson never left campus as he worked to quell tensions between angry students and police.
His legacy moment came the day thousands of students blocked Main Street Bridge and police moved in with tear gas. Nickerson grabbed a microphone and urged authorities to give him 45 minutes to convince the protesters to leave.
His steadying hand throughout that week was credited with staving off serious violence and destruction, largely because he took the students’ concerns seriously.
* Herb Mocol was bodacious, loquacious, ever-gracious and perhaps the most “out there” mayor in Mankato’s history.
He held that post from 1974 to 1986, his tenure highlighted by his successful federal lobbying efforts to secure funding for the Mankato/North Mankato floodwall system.
Former Vice President Walter Mondale was no stranger to Mocol’s high-octane quests for community betterment.
“Herb just came at you like a tornado,” Mondale said.
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