The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

November 19, 2013

Haefner made Wagon Wheel what it is today


In his later years, Wally was blind, on oxygen and needed a wheelchair to get around. His only trips to the Wagon Wheel in recent years came on Father's Day, an annual tradition for the family.

"I figured that last Father's Day would be his last," Kevin said. "And it was."

Wally made a lot of friends in this town. One of them was Blue Earth County District Court Judge Bradley Walker.

Walker, who was a morning regular for years until the new Blue Earth County Justice Center was built (which took him considerably farther from the Wagon Wheel) said he first met Wally 35-40 years ago.

"He was always hard-working, back by the grill," Walker said.

Walker said Wally created a warm, welcoming place, one that didn't matter who you were as long as you were friendly.

"It was always friendly, reasonable, and you could sit and talk and have your cup of coffee and he wouldn’t be trying to get you out of there to make room for someone else," he said. "And then Kevin, very frankly, kept the same traditions his father and mother instituted. ... From my standpoint, yes, (Wally) made it what it was."

Added Kevin, "He was a great man. He worked hard."

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