A Young Reporter Covered JFK's Duluth Visit

Posted at: 09/24/2013 4:29 PM
Updated at: 09/25/2013 10:26 AM
By: Maarja Anderson

50 years ago Tuesday, President John F. Kennedy landed in Duluth and went on to visit Ashland. Two months later the president was assassinated.

Former WDIO/WIRT news anchor, Dennis Anderson, was at the Duluth event as a young reporter.

For many, Denny was the face and voice of WDIO for decades, but before he was behind the desk he was a young radio reporter on the Iron Range.

"I put 50 years in journalism and I was two years into the career when President Kennedy got here, so I was a very young man," said Denny.

He was 19 and covering the arrival to the Duluth International Airport of President John F. Kennedy. As a radio reporter Denny was armed with tape recorders, but he also brought his movie camera.

"The film I took of President Kennedy in Duluth was just a simple little, 8 mm movie camera that I had gotten for a Christmas present a year or two earlier," Denny said.

Denny says that September day in 1963 was a rainy one, but it didn't dampen the spirits of the crowd. They all cheered as Air Force One came into sight.

"When he got here three things struck my mind: I was amazed at how young he looked, I was amazed how thin he was, and I was amazed at the size of the crowd or mostly how jubilant the crowd was," he said.

Just two months later JFK was assassinated, and Denny says, it was felt close to home.

"I think when Duluth heard President Kennedy was assassinated people here in town had a special link with him because he was here, so many people saw him here," said Denny.

Over Denny's career several other president's would visit the Northland, but he says that first visit from President Kennedy was a special one.

"It brought Washington to life in Duluth and I think that's what a lot of people felt, that it's more than just a picture on a television screen, hey, this is real," Denny said.