M.T. Liggett was well-known for saying what he thought. His metal artwork of twirling political statements and garish tributes to past lovers stands along U.S. Highway 400 near Mullinville, Kansas to carry on his tirades in his absence. Liggett died Thursday, August 17, 2017 at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita after a long battle with cancer but he leaves behind a legacy that makes some people mad, some people laugh, but gives most viewers something to think about.
"He had a gruff manner and forthright way of speaking," said Patrick Clement, former Kiowa County Signal newspaper editor. "Not many people liked him but we had a pretty good relationship and I feel very lucky to have known him. He was a genius on so many levels."
Clement said he enjoying talking with Liggett when he came in to the newspaper office where he worked to comment on activities of city officials or others that he just didn’t agree with.
"M.T. liked attention," he said. "If there was anybody who would listen to him, he loved to talk. He had been around the world and was actually quite famous for his metal art. He usually had something to say, and often he said it in a permanent way."
Liggett, who was featured in a 2013 segment of American Pickers on television’s History Channel, once made several iron/metal cannons and faced them towards the Kiowa County Courthouse in Greensburg because he was mad at one of the judges there.
"If someone pissed him off, he had a public way of getting even," said one of Liggett’s friends, Gary Goodman. "The bigger deal they made about it, the longer he left his statement on display."
Because he placed his metal statements on privately-owned land, there was often little the person who was Liggett’s target could do about the issue.
"He’s got a cannon with the sheriff's name on it and one with a judge’s name on it," Goodman said. "They can’t touch those for 50 years or so. He’s got it in his will or trust."
One of Liggett’s sons, Jim Liggett of Wichita, said Thursday that family members were not sure what would happen to the miles and miles of metal art that stands in western Kansas.
"I’m still in the dark about that," Jim Liggett said. "I’ve been told he appointed some people to a board of trustees to oversee the preservation of that stuff. But I guess he didn’t think it was none of my business."
Jim Liggett said his father had requested a military-style funeral and they were working towards that end. No date had been set yet.
M. T. Liggett was born Dec. 28, 1930 and grew up on his family’s farm near Mullinville. He was a graduate of Mullinville High School, attended Dodge City Community College and the University of Texas, majoring in political science. He joined the Navy in 1948, and then, in 1957, the Air Force. He moved back to his hometown in 1971, then to California before returning again to Mullinville in 1987, where he lived until Saturday when he was checked in to Wesley Medical Center in Wichita.
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