In nod to cancer, a professor says ‘goodbye’ to a beard

In the annals of Minnesota Public Radio, perhaps only Michael Barone has a beard more worthy of historical note than our former colleague Mark Heistad.

He’s had it since June 1975. He stopped shaving the day after he graduated from high school.

But it is no more.

“Many people notice that middle age men when they cut off their beard they look younger,” he tells KTIV in Sioux City. “I figured when I started to feel old I would cut it off. This just pushed it ahead a little bit.”

This is esophageal cancer, which was diagnosed in August.

So yesterday, his students — he’s a college professor these days — did the honors.

Heistad, whose specialty at MPR was historical documentaries, hopes to return to class next semester, after an operation to remove his esophagus.