John Alden Lundquist witnessed some of the region’s biggest news events in his 35 years as an Associated Press reporter — most of them spent working in Minneapolis.
A wizard at shorthand notetaking, Lundquist is remembered by colleagues for his meticulous approach to reporting. Back home, his quirky sense of humor earned him nicknames like “Uncle Quack Quack.”
Lundquist died Oct. 30 at 94 — he had been in hospice since June, his family said, but lobbied for watching the World Series from bed after his latest fall.
After graduating from the University of Minnesota in 1949, Lundquist began his career at the Minot (N.D.) Daily News, left for Baltimore to join the Associated Press in 1950 and returned home to the wire service’s Minneapolis bureau in 1960.
He covered the 1980 trial of Ming Sen Shiue, who was convicted of kidnapping and sexually abusing a Roseville algebra teacher and her daughter and killing a 6-year-old boy who witnessed the abductions. Lundquist also covered the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee in South Dakota by the American Indian Movement, and his clip file contains scores of stories from crime to business and personality profiles. For the Shiue trial, Lundquist received an AP award in 1981 for excellence in reporting and writing.
“I was so amazed with his ability to know everything to ask about something,” said AP photographer Jim Mone, who spent 12 years working alongside Lundquist. “He needed to know everything about them.”
Lundquist chaired the Wire Service Guild when workers went on strike in subzero temperatures in January 1969. In the office, he was known for whistling while he worked. “And he could carry a tune,” said Karen Mills, a fellow reporter and editor. “I always thought of him as the Happy Whistler. Although sometimes it’d get on your nerves.”
Lundquist met Alice Hansen through Twin City Lutheran Young Adults and they married in 1963. They adopted their three children — John was 50 when they adopted the youngest, Jana, at 3 months, Jana Oman said. After retiring from the Associated Press, he spent another decade working at Hennepin County Medical Center, stocked shelves at Target and worked at a temp agency.
He earned the name “Uncle Quack Quack” from nephew Seth Tibbott, who went on to found the Tofurky Company. Tibbott remembered how Lundquist once hid under a table and made quacking sounds as he and his brother came home one day.
“When he came to visit, things came alive,” Tibbott wrote in a memorial.
Karen Lundquist said her father passed along different traits to his three kids: She carried on his way with words in a career in communications, Brian inherited his love of sports, and Jana clung to his Lutheran faith.
Off the clock, he loved playing with words, she said, turning phrases on their heads: “Take a shower” became “shake a tower.”
“And if a pun could be had it was,” Karen Lundquist said.
Bedtime stories were drawn from a vast library started by Lundquist’s father, Seth. Later in life, Lundquist marked up the children’s letters home, returning the correspondence with his own edits.
At the end of his Associated Press tenure, Lundquist worked overnight shifts even into his 60s. If he woke any of the kids when he got home to Richfield, he’d invite them to share a can of soup at the dinner table, Karen Lundquist said. Other times, she said, he’d summon one of them for “snuggle buggle,” time where they’d wrap themselves in blankets and peer at the stars.
“When he was [home] he was really, really present,” Karen Lundquist said.
He is survived by his wife, Alice, of Richfield; children Karen Lundquist, of Austin, Texas, Brian Lundquist, of Maplewood, and Jana Oman, of Deer Park, Wis.; and four grandchildren. Services have been held.