Larry Lunden lived life large

Larry Lunden - Contributed Photo
Larry Lunden
— image credit: Contributed Photo

Lawrence Raymond Lunden was a true Mercer Island pioneer. Lunden, 90, who died Dec. 23 after crossing Island Crest Way only to be struck by a passing car’s mirror as he stepped up onto the curb, will be memorialized Saturday at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church at 1 p.m.

“He was crossing a familiar crosswalk that he’s crossed many times,” his daughter, Karen Diltz, said.

Diltz, of Mercer Island, and her sister, Helen McCann of Woodinville, said he walked four miles every day after heart bypass surgery in 1984. He would walk from the family home to the South end QFC and back. The daughters said he quit walking just over a year ago due to increased traffic on Island Crest Way, and the fact that he was getting older.

“On the day of the accident, his car had broken down, so Triple AAA took it to the service station,” Diltz said. “He was on his way to the bus stop to go and get the car.”

Diltz said he used the old crosswalk, which is lighted and still has visible striping. But the city has recently relocated the crossing. She said the new crosswalk is unlit with no button. Her father had reached the other side of Island Crest Way, and was just about to step onto the sidewalk when a passing car, driven by an Island couple, hit Lunden with the car’s side mirror.

McCann said it would be horrible to be in the driver’s shoes. They hold no ill-will toward the driver. Drugs or alcohol were not a factor.

Lunden was born in Naples, Idaho, in 1921, but moved to the Seattle area in 1941, first living in West Seattle before purchasing land on the Island in 1949, which was then in the “woods.” There was no Island Crest Way then.

He met his wife, Charlotte, in 1942, while both were working at Boeing — she as an electrician and he on the final assembly. Larry would put candy bars in Charlotte’s lunch box while courting her. They would marry five months later and enjoy each other’s company for 69 years and one month to the day of his death. The girls said growing up was quite an adventure when their dad was building the home on Mercer Island. Larry dug the foundation by hand with a shovel, and built the entire house. When the family first moved in, blankets were on the inside of the walls before plasterboard went up. They had a clawfoot tub in the backyard and an outhouse. With their other sister, Susan Marlow of Goldendale, they would play while their father built the home where Charlotte still lives.

One of their fondest memories is a yearly outing that the entire family made to camp out on the American River east of Mt. Rainier, which they do every summer and have for 30 years. Larry would organize the trip and looked forward to it every year. The trip included the three daughters, eight grandsons — ages ranging from 31 to 48 — and 13 great-grandchildren, a mix of boys and girls, whose ages are from 2 to 17.

Larry and Charlotte had returned from a Hawaiian Cruise on Dec. 9 and had enjoyed several cruises, including Alaska’s inside passage, the Caribbean and the Panama Canal.

The family asks donations to be made to The Feeding Fund at Holy Trinity.


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