Gene Wiley, who brightened the days of countless customers and office workers from his shoeshine stand in downtown St. Paul, has died at age 71.
"Geno's" stand was a fixture in the Hamm Building for 13 years and office workers there started a fundraising campaign to help with his medical expenses after Wiley had a series of small strokes this summer.
Wiley did not recover and died this week, the Pioneer Press reports.
He was nicknamed "the ambassador of the Hamm Building" and knew many of those who worked on its six floors by name, friends say.
Jennifer Bisch, who owns a business next to where Geno's stand was located, tells the Pioneer Press: "It's hard because people come by every day and ask about him and I have to keep breaking the bad news... The guy just knew everybody and was so well-loved."
Sean O'Byrne owns Great Waters Brewing, Company, which was on the other side of Geno's stand, and tells the paper: "He greeted everybody as they came in to work, spoke to them as they left for lunch ... He got to know people, their families, their spouses, that kind of thing."
A memorial service for Wiley is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 9th at 11:00 a.m. at the Spielman Mortuary, 344 W. University Avenue in St Paul.