Obituary: Runner Kelly Lund loved life, even as it ebbed

  • Article by: PAMELA MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 15, 2012 - 9:40 PM
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Kelly Lund in 2010 after he climbed Mount Whitney in California.

Kelly Lund, who loved running so much that he finished the 2011 Twin Cities Marathon despite terminal brain cancer, died Oct. 4 at his Eden Prairie home. He was 54, and before his diagnosis two years ago had worked as chief anesthetist at Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina.

During his ordeal, Lund never complained, remained unfailingly kind to others and strived to enjoy the time he had left, family and friends said.

Fred Karasov, of Minneapolis, a longtime friend who delivered the eulogy at Lund's Oct. 11 funeral, said, "Kelly was a great guy who had no enemies. Usually there's something to balance out that kind of praise, but really, everyone liked him."

Lund was born in Carrington, N.D., where he excelled in academics, wrestling and football in high school, said his wife, Tina Lund. He studied nursing at the University of North Dakota, graduating in 1981, then came to Minneapolis to earn his master's at the Minneapolis School of Anesthesia. He soon became an anesthetist at Fairview Southdale, working his way up to chief of his department in a 28-year career.

"He absolutely loved his work, both the technical part and the patient care," Tina said. "He was a very kind, comforting person, and patients appreciated that."

In 1993, he met Tina in a running club. "I had my eye on him for three months before we really talked," she said. "He was handsome and kind, and had a wonderful sense of humor."

Neither had been married before. She was 40 and he was 38 when they married in 1996. They continued to run marathons together and to enjoy biking, hiking, reading, gardening and socializing. And every year, Kelly Lund and his buddy Karasov would head out on some challenging adventure, one year hiking the Grand Canyon, another biking through North Dakota and yet another camping in Michigan's Porcupine Mountains. In 2010, they climbed California's Mount Whitney. At the summit, Karasov snapped a photo of Lund triumphantly holding up his arms.

On Dec. 2 of that year, an MRI showed that Lund had stage 4 brain cancer. He "both accepted his medical fate, understanding the reality as a medical professional, and fought it as hard as he could, as someone who wanted so fiercely to live," Karasov said.

Over the next few months, Lund endured multiple surgeries and bouts of chemo, infections, a horrific attack of shingles and a two-week coma.

Still, in fall 2011, he announced his intention to run the Twin Cities Marathon. After more than six hours, he and Karasov crossed the finish line. Lund had finished his 37th, and last, marathon.

"He'd been through so many surgeries and chemos, so hadn't been training, and certainly was in no shape for this, but he was determined to do it," Karasov said. "He would try to run, then couldn't, so we'd walk together, especially on the hills. After six hours, we were on Summit Avenue and they were kind of shutting things down. There's this bus they send down the route, and it was going real slow by us, but Kelly said, 'No, I'm going to finish.' And he did. He made it."

After that came more chemo, "and he lived the best he could, but eventually there was nothing else that could be done," Tina said. She cared for him at home until he died.

"Despite it all, I have been lucky," she said. "I met my soulmate, the love of my life. It was so hard to lose him, but I'm comforted he is at peace now."

In addition to Tina, Lund is survived by his mother, Inez, of Carrington, and a brother, Larry, of Detroit. Services have been held.

Pamela Miller • 612-673-4290

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