Monday, April 9, 2012

Everett Martin Lundgren: 1917-2012

Recently, and more than usual, my thoughts have been returning to a long-ago summer in Montana. My daily Google searches have followed my reminiscing, and this morning I discovered that Ev Lundgren had died on February 26th of this year. He was 95.

The Lundgrens bought West Glacier Mercantile in 1946. This collection of businesses at the west entrance to Glacier National Park serves visitors in search of food and drink, fuel and provisions, lodging and coin-op laundry. The quaint complex remains in the family today.

I worked in the Lundgrens' gas station, then a Chevron, for several months in the late 1970s. The first thing I found out that summer was that no one -- not the local workers and certainly not the seasonal crews -- questioned Ev's standing as The Boss.

What's more, if an employee of West Glacier Mercantile didn't get dressed-down by Ev once a day, we knew he'd written us off. He was demanding as hell but undeniably fair.

I absolutely loved working for the guy.

As a businessman, Ev personified "sweat equity" -- he refused to let anyone outwork him. (Do the math -- he was already in his early 60s when I met him.) Away from the Merc he was an accomplished outdoorsman, especially passionate when it came to Glacier Park.

I recall Ev stopping by the Chevron one particular evening around closing time. I had the next day off and planned to do some exploring in the park, so I asked him to suggest a destination, perhaps someplace uncrowded.

He didn't so much as hesitate before answering. "Get in that fancy truck of yours and drive up the North Fork Road, past Polebridge, far as it goes. Hardly anyone takes the time to make that trip, but there's nowhere better -- nowhere."

Because I followed his advice, the next afternoon I laid eyes on Kintla Lake for the very first time. I haven't been the same since.

I'll close this post with a line from Ev's obituary:
"A celebration of life for Everett Lundgren will be held in early summer 2012 when the bluebirds return."
That sentiment, like my memories of the man, makes me smile.

Thanks, Ev -- Godspeed.