1/24/2013 11:20:00 AM Van De Walker is citizen of the year
by Ken Haggerty
When people see Larry Van De Walker of Wanamingo coming, they run, joke Larry's friends and family. That's because they know Larry, a non-stop volunteer and community project organizer, probably is going to hit them up to buy another fundraiser ticket or get them to volunteer to help on another project.
For all of his work on such projects and for his other numerous community activities, Van De Walker, was honored last week by the Goodhue County Editorial Association as the County Citizen of the Year at a dinner at the Area 57 Cafe in Wanamingo.
Van De Walker has been an honored volunteer for his work of over twenty years with the Wanamingo Boy Scouts, leading many memorable camping trips and helping 16 earn Eagle Scout status.
An Army Veteran, Van De Walker has also been a leader with the Mazeppa Legion, helped start the Wanamingo Honor Guard, and is leading the Wanamingo Veterans Memorial project. He also has worked with the Kenyon and Wanamingo VFWs.
Van De Walker has also been involved with the Goodhue Area Jaycees and the Wanamingo Lions.
Kenyon-Wanamingo baseball coach Randy Hockinson says Van De Walker has been instrumental in major baseball and softball field renovations and upgrades in Wanamingo. Van De Walker has been the fundraiser, organizer, motivator and burger flipper for those projects and the resulting concession stands.
Larry says none of the volunteer work has been hard and he does it because he enjoys it. "It's easy when you have so many people willing to pitch in and help out," said Larry.
Van De Walker has also been active in the Wanamingo Lutheran Church and is on the Wanamingo City Council. He also helped organize adult softball leagues for many years and helped improve parks in Mazeppa, where he grew up and graduated from high school in 1970.
Van De Walker was married to his wife, Sherree (the daughter of Tom Soine and Ruth Otterness), in 1982 and moved to Wanamingo in 1986. Jesse Steberg (of the band Lost Highway and Zumbro Valley Landscaping) is his step-son and Kirby and Callie are his son and daughter. Kirby is a teacher and coach for the K-W School District and Callie works at Riverview Services care facility in Wanamingo.
Wanamingo Mayor Ryan Holmes said growing up he knew Larry as "Larry with the Scouts" or "Larry with the Vets" or "Larry with the Lions" and never realized what he did for a living. Holmes said it came as no surprise to learn the type of work he does for the Minnesota Department of Human Services, overseeing 29 residential homes in Southern Minnesota for people with multiple ranges of disabilities and mental health issues.