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Community remembers life of ‘Big Al, the trucker’s pal from Southern Cal’

Community remembers life of ‘Big Al, the trucker’s pal from Southern Cal’
Allen Lund, shown at his family's ranch in Blanding, Utah. Lund, who founded a La Cañada-based transportation brokerage firm, passed away last week at the age of 77. (Courtesy of the Lund family)

Flags at La Cañada's City Hall and Memorial Park flew at half-staff this week in honor of Allen Lund, a larger-than-life figure who grew a small transportation brokerage business into a national enterprise known for its integrity and far-reaching philanthropy.

Lund died in his home in Pasadena Saturday morning, surrounded by family members, friends, employees and associates, after a brief battle with cancer. He was 77.

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Son Kenny Lund said friends and well-wishers were encouraged to pay their final respects earlier last week, after his father's condition worsened and he was brought home from hospice. Multiple visitors heeded the call, and correspondences recounting fond memories were read aloud right up until the end.

"It was the most incredible four days," he said, describing a constant stream of company. "He had visits from priests and cardinals. Carmelite sisters came and sang to him — we got everybody in the round-up. It was the most beautiful passing you could imagine."

Devoted to his family and his Catholic faith, Allen Lund held seats on the boards of St. Francis High School, the University of Portland and Homeboy Industries, and had served on the finance council of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles as well as the Board of Directors of St. John's Seminary in Camarillo, among other positions.

He established the Lund Family Scholarship, benefiting students from St. Francis and Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy (alma maters of his sons and daughters) who go on to attend the University of Portland. St. Francis President Fr. Tony Marti said as chairman of the school's board of directors, Allen Lund was instrumental in spearheading several campus improvements

"The theater was built under his tenure and all the classes were renovated. All kinds of things were done — air-conditioning, lighting, you name it," Marti said Thursday. "He was a man of his word and a man of character."

St. Francis Principal Tom Moran, who knew the Allen Lund for more than 40 years, said his contributions to the school were too numerous to name.

"We are heartbroken here," he said Wednesday. "He was a true gentleman, a family man, an honest businessman a faithful Catholic and somebody who will be dearly missed."

Locally, Allen Lund Company sponsored the annual fireworks show at the Memorial Weekend Fiesta Days, hosted by the La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce and Community Assn.

"He was passionate in his support of the chamber and our community," Chamber executive and President Pat Anderson said in an email interview. "The fireworks we have all enjoyed in Memorial Park on Memorial weekend for the past 16+ years are because of Mr. Lund — I will miss him greatly."

La Cañada Mayor Terry Walker, who worked for Allen Lund Company for 18 years before retiring in 2012, fondly recalled trips to the Lund family's Utah ranch and Allen Lund himself stepping up to coach T-ball so her son Wade, then 5, could play. She credits her former employer for inspiring her entry into civic affairs.

"The reason I got involved with the city was he thought our company should be involved with the chamber," recalled Walker, who would go on to serve as chamber board president and planning commissioner before joining the city council. "He was a wonderful man and a wonderful boss. His legacy is bigger than life."

What began in 1976 as a small truck brokerage firm operated by Allen Lund, wife Kathie and a handful of employees eventually became a national enterprise that today employees 450 employees in 34 offices.

One of the company's earliest employees, Steve Asip, worked in the Atlanta office for nearly 39 years before retiring in August 2016. On Monday, Asip remembered his former employer as a great friend who lived up to the handle "Big Al, the trucker's pal from Southern Cal" by treating everyone he knew with dignity and respect.

"He helped people be better people, and it wasn't just a great tagline or to sell a book. He coached people in such a way they could become better people and then go out and do things for other people," Asip said.

To recognize the company's 40th anniversary in 2016, Allen Lund Company leaders challenged themselves and employees to commit 40 acts of kindness. Workers volunteered with women's shelters, organized fundraisers, collected clothes for the homeless and donated to disaster relief, amounting to well over 70 acts and sparking an annual tradition.

"My dad always said, 'I don't just want you to write a check.' He'd want you to go do something," Kenny Lund said, extending the maxim to his father's own memorialization. "He really would not want flowers — seriously, don't bring flowers. Go and do something."

Allen Lund leaves behind wife of 57 years, Kathleen "Kathie" Lund and six children: David Lund (Helen), Kenneth Lund (Mary), Edward Lund (Alicia), Natalie Peterson (Kirk), Anna Clapp (Mike), and Christina Doerfler (Steve). He is also survived by sisters Katie Atkin (Salt Lake City) and Judy Holtkamp (Gold Beach, Ore.), 22 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

A rosary will be held Friday at 7 p.m. at the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church in Pasadena, 2640 E. Orange Grove Blvd. A funeral mass takes place Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, 555 W. Temple St.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Carmel of St. Teresa, 215 E. Alhambra Road, Alhambra, CA, 91801 (www.carmelteresa.org).

Twitter: @SaraCardine

UPDATES:

April 12, 4:22 p.m.: This article was updated with additional details from St. Francis High School administrators.

This article was originally published April 11 at 5 p.m.

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