Loring restaurant, artists team up to help good neighbor

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December 6, 2004 // UPDATED 4:51 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

Joe's Garage in Loring Park is pitching in to help a popular neighborhood resident pay his hospital bills. The restaurant is hosting a "Wally Wall" featuring work by local artists to help 78-year-old Wally Hanson.

Artworks, which are for sale until Dec. 15, can be seen at the 1610 Harmon Place restaurant.

Kirstin Hanson, one of the featured artists and Hanson's neighbor at the Oak Grove Apartment Hotel, 230 Oak Grove St., organized the effort.

"When anybody meets Wally, they like him. He's a staple in the neighborhood," she said.

Hanson, who worked for local advertising firms before he retired, checked into Abbott Northwestern Hospital in South Minneapolis in August for preventive abdominal aortic surgery that resulted in a series of serious medical complications, Hanson said.

He spent five weeks in the hospital's intensive care unit, left the hospital briefly when his condition improved but has since returned, she said.

She said Hanson's medical expenses, which are not covered by insurance, have skyrocketed. "It's easily in the six digits," she said.

Wally Hanson was an avid cyclist before he fell ill, often biking 10 miles a day, she said. He also was a helpful neighbor and friend who frequently took her dog Trapper on walks around Loring Park.

"He is all positive energy," she said.

Deborah Zavitka, who used to bike with Hanson, called him a "gentleman who is always very friendly."

"He's just a totally nice person. He's always interested in what's going on in your life," Zavitka said.

The artists whose works comprise the "Wally Wall" work at the Northrup King Building in Northeast Minneapolis. Besides Hanson, a sculptor and photographer, participants include

photographic artist Vance Gellert and painters Pamela Belding, Craig Bell, Lorie Shackmann and Mark Barsness.

For more information or to donate, contact Kirstin Hanson at kmh_design@att.net.