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Larry Hansen the Great

November 18, 2010

The movement to renew American democracy lost perhaps one of its most influential champions this week when Larry Hansen passed away in Chicago.  The post from which he most recently amazed and delighted reformers and progressives across the nation was his vice presidency at The Joyce Foundation.  But his five decades of brilliant, dedicated, humane, and ever-witty public leadership took him from the streets of the civil rights movement to the halls of power in Congress to Walter F. Mondale's presidential bid as well.  Larry was an early and regular  adviser to Heartland Democracy and to me.  He cared enough about our common causes to tell me, candidly, when he thought we were going off in the wrong direction -- a mark of a friend with integrity.  He was a mensch's mensch, sparking, aiding, and supporting would-be reformers across the nation with a sensibility that warmed and an intellect that sizzled.  Heartland Democracy, the democracy reform movement, and the larger progressive cause have lost one of our lions.  We celebrate his life and example, and we mourn his death.  Whether you knew him or not, read his world-class obituary and other tributes here on the website of the Midwest Democracy Network, which is just one of his many legacies:  MDN on Larry Hansen.  Reading it, you will find yourself taking a walk with Larry through the history of justice and democracy these past five decades.  He will remain an inspiring example to all of us.  -- Tom Vellenga

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