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Yesterday in La Crosse

Ready to party like it’s 1776, in 1973

Brad Williams



In the fall of 1973, America’s bicentennial was less than three years away, and La Crosse was forming a committee to plan the local celebration.  Richard Pearse chaired the 21-member group.  Other members included Viterbo president Fr. Thomas Finucan, UW-L mass communications instructor Jim Conway, and city library director Gertrude Thurow.  

In late 1973, Mayor W. Peter Gilbertson said he was thinking of entering the governor’s race the following year.  Gilbertson had just won his second term as mayor of La Crosse.  He argued that his main reason for wanting to run was to force other candidates to focus on issues important to local government.  

‘Uncle Ken’ died that November.  WIZM and Channel 8 personality Ken Allen, real name Russ Huber, was 65.  The deep-voiced Huber had worked for WIZM since 1936, when the radio station was known as WKBH.  As Ken Allen, he was known for his “man on the street” radio interviews, and for hosting “Uncle Ken’s Kiddie Hour” on La Crosse TV.  He passed away 46 years ago, 1973, yesterday in La Crosse.   

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