NORTH MANKATO — South Central College President Keith Stover has a tendency to run out of gas.
He also tends to mix up his wife's name, Sandy, with his assistant Carol Freed. And he's always had a thing for old classic cars.
That's actually one of the first things Stover and Minnesota State University President Richard Davenport bonded over when Davenport arrived in Mankato 12 years ago, he said. At Stover's retirement program and barbecue Tuesday afternoon, Davenport and many other colleagues, family and friends were eager to dish about these little anecdotes — or, as North Mankato Campus Foundation Executive Director Tami Reuter put it, “finally throw him under the bus.”
Davenport said the first thing he and Stover planned to do together was buy an old retro Thunderbird and restore it together, but somebody else beat them to the purchase. In the many years that followed, their two families became close friends, even gathering for board game nights with Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor and businessman Fred Lutz and their wives.
Friendly competition over games of Apples to Apples is just a sliver of the lighthearted rivalry between the two over the years, Davenport said. They've competed over everything from how fast they could get to the Twin Cities to weight loss, with Davenport pledging to lose two pounds for every one Stover lost.
“But then he had a heart attack,” Davenport said. “I couldn't compete with that.”
Davenport also told a story about how he would give his MSU president's seats to Stover at basketball games, and Stover ended up going to more games than Davenport. People started thinking Stover was the president of MSU — and Stover did not correct them, Davenport joked.
With the Stovers building a house next door to the Davenports, Davenport said he knows their friendship will continue for years after Stover's retirement at the end of the month. Friendly rivalry aside, Davenport ended his comments on a warm note.