Our view: Spirit of feisty Kinney mayor won't soon be extinguished
A who's who of Minnesota DFLers -- folks like Rudy Perpich, Paul Wellstone and Hubert Humphrey -- always made a point of stopping at the tiny bar in Kinney any time they were on the Iron Range. They rarely passed up a chance to visit with the bar...
A who's who of Minnesota DFLers -- folks like Rudy Perpich, Paul Wellstone and Hubert Humphrey -- always made a point of stopping at the tiny bar in Kinney any time they were on the Iron Range. They rarely passed up a chance to visit with the bar's owner, a "feisty" woman, a "fighter," a "go-getter," an "ultimate friend," and a "great DFLer," as Mary Anderson, the longtime mayor of the "Republic of Kinney," was remembered this week.
Anderson died Wednesday afternoon at Heritage Manor Health Care Center in Chisholm. She was 92.
Her bar "was a meeting place where great ideas were born and other ideas that weren't so great were put to rest. It was the town hall of the Iron Range," U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar said in a statement.
His assessment was true even before Anderson helped put her overlooked mining municipality on the national news 30 years ago this past summer. Kinney needed a new water system and money from the state or from Washington to pay for it. Deciding it's "much easier to get assistance as a foreign country," Anderson and her fellow Kinney city leaders, with their tongues planted firmly in their cheeks, wrote a letter and seceded from the United States. Kinney became its own republic. "If necessary, we will be glad to declare war and lose," read the city's declaration of independence to the U.S. secretary of state. "However, if this is a requirement, we would appreciate being able to surrender real quick as our mayor works as a nurse in a hospital and most of our council members work in a nearby mine and cannot get much time off from work."
Amazingly, the stunt worked. The Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board came through with $198,000 and frozen foods entrepreneur Jeno Paulucci donated a used police cruiser, something else Kinney had long needed.
"She personified the Iron Range spirit," Oberstar said.
The spirit lives on and her old bar is still around with pictures still on the walls of the famous politicians who passed through. But there'll never be another Mary Anderson, an Iron Range institution who'll sorely be missed.