Friends, admirers bid Mary Anderson farewell
Mary Anderson's farewell was just like her life. About 100 blue-collar workers, residents of Kinney and a Who's-Who of DFL political leaders said goodbye Monday to one of the Iron Range's best-known residents. "She was a well-known person in Rang...
Mary Anderson's farewell was just like her life.
About 100 blue-collar workers, residents of Kinney and a Who's-Who of DFL political leaders said goodbye Monday to one of the Iron Range's best-known residents.
"She was a well-known person in Range cities and was well-known for her involvement in the political arena," the Very Rev. Bogdon Zjalich of St. Vasilije of Ostrog Serbian Church in Chisholm during Anderson's funeral. "Mary will long be remembered as a political figure on the Iron Range."
Anderson, the diminutive and tenacious former mayor of Kinney, died Wednesday at age 92.
Just as in the bar she operated in her tiny hometown, Anderson's farewell was a reflection of the diverse group of people who called her a friend.
Along with Kinney residents, steelworker leaders and friends, about a dozen state and national political leaders paid their respects. At the close of the service they filed by her open casket for a final good-bye in a service steeped in Serbian tradition.
Former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton, state Sen. Dave Tomassoni, former state Sen. Jerry Janezich, state Reps. Tom Rukavina and Tony Sertich, former state Rep. Joe Begich and St. Louis County Commissioner Steve Raukar chuckled with others at stories about Anderson's remarkable life.
Former state Sen. Ron Dicklich served as reader, reciting traditional Serbian prayers from a balcony during the ceremony.
Father Frank Perkovich, an Iron Range priest famous for creating the "Polka Mass," and Gary Lamppa, a former Iron Range Resources commissioner, also attended.
Anderson was the Iron Range's first female mayor.
In 1977, Anderson led Kinney into the national limelight when the little mining town decided to "secede" from the union in frustration over seeking government support for a new water system,
For decades, Mary's Bar was the spot where some of Minnesota's best-known DFLers kicked off election campaigns, eating Anderson's homemade sarmas and poticas.
At the same time, she worked full-time as a nurse and was a single parent.
Though Anderson had her own share of personal heartache, including the death of her daughter and the destruction of her bar in a fire, she worked with civic organizations aimed at helping others, said Zjalich.
"Her picture was in a book about the most important people in the United States," said Zjalich. "I was surprised to find out that she shook the hand of President Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey and Rudy Perpich. But she was one of those people who had a huge heart for everyone. She treated everyone who came to her with dignity and respect. She was a true disciple of the Lord."
Dayton said he first met Anderson in 1981.
"I was told that Mary was one of the very first people I had to see," said Dayton. "Back then, I weighed less, but I went to her bar and ended up eating three pieces of her strudel. She was a friend to everybody in the DFL and she did so much for everybody else. She had the courage of heart that personified the Iron Range."
Born in Kinney, Anderson died at a nursing facility in Chisholm, a few miles down the road from the town and the people she served.
"You had people here today that, whoever they are, were a part of her life," said Dicklich. "Whether it was people who she supported politically or people who she helped in their lives. It was good to see all those people together."