Marion man has memories of meeting John F. Kennedy - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Marion man has memories of meeting John F. Kennedy

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Bill Huntoon was just 19 years old when he met John F. Kennedy, but it's a day the Marion man remembers well.

"What a handsome man he was," said Huntoon. "Such a head of hair! And that Boston brogue -- to hear him speak was fun."

Huntoon only remembers there being 30 or 40 people in Marion's Thomas Park when Kennedy made a campaign visit in June of 1960. Therefore, just about everyone in the crowd got to shake the hand of the man who became the nation's 35th president.

"When he started giving his speech, he was standing on the ground," said Huntoon. "Well, people said 'well, we can't see you.' And so they pulled a park bench up."

Huntoon was able to shake Kennedy's hand twice and get the future president's autograph -- which he still has today.

"I didn't have anything to get his autograph on and I had newspaper, so he wrote it on that," said Huntoon.

Those are happy memories. But three years later, Huntoon was student teaching when he learned Kennedy had been shot.

"We were just shocked," said Huntoon. "We were just -- the whole staff, all the students -- we were shocked. Many of them were crying and I know it upset me and the rest of the staff."

Throughout his life, Huntoon has been able to share not just where he was that November day 50 years ago, but also his memory of the day he met JFK.

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