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Al the Mayor (1950 – 2012)

February 13, 2012

“Mayor” was an honorary title — a nickname, really — that Alan Luoma earned

by being the only member of our hamlet to be born here.  He was descended

from Finns who moved to Granite Bay at the turn of the 19th Century.

 

He was stocky with a deep voice and a gruff persona, yet was capable of great 

kindness.  He was our most colourful character in a community full of them.

Yesterday he took his final troubled breath in the arms of long-time friend

and good neighbour Chris, as Chris tried to resuscitate him.

 

Al called Chris at 5:10 a.m., saying he was having great difficulty breathing.

Chris and his wife Nina rushed to Al’s home, where they and Al’s friend

Patrick did all they could to keep him alive.  Chris and Patrick had been

performing CPR on him for 30 minutes when the ambulance arrived.

 

Paramedics worked on Al another half hour before calling it, but likely he was

dead when they got there.  Chris had called Jude about 5:30.  She offered to go

to Al’s, but Chris asked her to stand by.  When he called back a short time later,

he told her he was afraid we’d lost him.

 

All this played out as Al’s longtime partner Sue is recovering from her own

brush with death.  She had collapsed two weeks ago and, according to Al, had

two coronaries in hospital.  She’s out of imminent danger now, but is still very

weak and confused.

 

Jude called the hospital to ask the staff not to tell Sue about Al’s death until

both families could be notified and plans could be made.

 

Al’s death leaves our community reeling, but it wasn’t a surprise.  He had long-

standing respiratory problems from chain smoking that he had only given up

a few years ago.  When he and Sue got off cigarettes together, they saved so much

much money that they were able to buy a TV and satellite service.

 

His death, as Nina pointed out, is the end of an era.  Al was the last connection

with the first white settlers that came to Granite Bay for the logging and the

mining.  Our community has several members who have been here 30 to 40

years, plus a beautiful new generation; but we’ll never have another Al.

 

Ruth, who now has the longest tenure here, hosted an informal memorial for

him yesterday.  We all shared Al stories.  Ruth told us about the time that she

had to run him out of her house even though he was still losing in a poker game.

She went to bed, only to have Al burst in later without knocking.

 

He had a chicken in each hand which he threw down.  “Here!”, he said, “I can’t

sleep when I’m in debt.”

 

Chris recounted the time that Al had 300 cats.  To drive up to Al’s house was like

parting a furry sea.  And it was even stranger at night when headlights would

reflect off 600 eyes.  Jody told us that Al once gave her $150 so she could take

her injured dog to the vet.

 

We laughed and consumed delicious baked goods and cheese along with coffee,

tea, beer and Frangelica.  We celebrated that Ruth’s partner George will be the

voice of Audrey in an island production of “Little Shop of Horrors”.  We com-

forted each other until the sun set on a terrible day, then went home.


In 2010 Al self-published “Born to the Wilds”, an anecdotal, nonlineal account

of his life, written on the hood of a truck.  It was heroically edited by Nina.  It

covered his many careers — such as running a freight business, racing stock

cars and making astrological charts — and his many run-ins with the law.

 

It’s a wonderful read that’s best not taken literally, like Al’s claim that after

being struck by lightning he could charge batteries and make fish jump into

his hands. 

 

You always knew where you stood with Al, even if you weren’t always sure on

what plane of existence he was standing.  Whichever one it is now, you old

outlaw, I’m certain you’re giving grief to the local authorities.



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21 Comments
  1. February 14, 2012 9:31 am

    I think I’d like to hire you to write MY obituary! What a fine tribute to a colorful character.

    • February 14, 2012 10:16 am

      Thanks, Kate, but I’d like to think that you’ll outlive me.

  2. poolagirl permalink
    February 14, 2012 12:46 pm

    Thank your for visiting my journal today. What a beautiful tribute. I am so sorry for your loss.

    • February 15, 2012 7:41 am

      You’re welcome, and I plan to read more. Thank you for your support of my mentor Kathy. I’m certain she appreciates it there in the land of Michelle Bachmann.

      • poolagirl permalink
        February 15, 2012 8:56 am

        Most absolutely! How scary! I am from Minnesota (left in 1991). I was there when “liberal” was a badge of honor.

      • February 16, 2012 11:24 am

        I’m glad you got out alive. My wife and I fled the states in 2005.

  3. kris (lower case) permalink
    February 14, 2012 8:11 pm

    lot of death seems to be goin gon lately..but then a lot of life is happening too. sorry about your loss of al. sounds like one of the good ones…

    • February 15, 2012 7:43 am

      Thanks, kris. He also had the capacity to be a real sumbitch, but most interesting people do.

  4. beth reed permalink
    February 15, 2012 7:58 pm

    Oh I am so sorry to hear of your friends death. Being able to share stories about Al sounds like a perfect way to honor his life.
    I hope from time to time you will share some Al stories. I bet they are great ones.

    • February 16, 2012 11:27 am

      Thank you, Beth. I’ll share some from his book if I can get permission. At the informal memorial we had for Al last Sunday, most of the best stories started “back when he was drinking…”

      • Michael Hall (Born Michael Luoma) permalink
        February 17, 2012 3:25 pm

        I would appreciate a copy of that book if you could dig one up.

        Michael Hall (Born Michael Luoma Dec, 22, 1971)

      • February 18, 2012 1:56 pm

        Michael, my heart goes out to you as you deal with the loss of this complex man. Earlier today I found a copy of the book at a store on Quadra. But then my wife and I went to look for Sue’s Bible again and found some copies of the book. Your uncle David thought you should have a copy. Please contact him or e-mail me at anchorstruck@gmail.com to arrange delivery.

  5. Michael Hall (Born Michael Luoma) permalink
    February 17, 2012 3:21 pm

    Rest in Peace Alan

    Your Son,

    Michael

  6. Brooke permalink
    February 18, 2012 7:44 am

    Rest In Peace Grandpa.
    Your Grandaughter,
    Brooke.

    • February 18, 2012 1:58 pm

      The Granite Bay community shares your loss, Brooke.

  7. Osmo Kangas permalink
    February 25, 2012 12:37 am

    Sorry to here about Alan’s death. My condolences to his family and friends.
    We met Al and Sue at their home about 17 years ago. Being interested in the history of Finnish settlers in Canada, it was very inspiring for me to meet Al.

    Osmo Kangas
    Jyväskylä
    Finland

  8. Osmo Kangas permalink
    February 25, 2012 12:58 am

    oops, correction; Sorry to hear.

    • February 25, 2012 11:00 am

      Osmo, I will pass on your condolences to Sue. The community is planning a memorial at the house where you probably met them, the legendary Roadhouse. It will likely be in the spring and I’ll post about it.

  9. Ossi Hangasluoma permalink
    February 25, 2012 12:03 pm

    Al, he was my second causin. I didn’t know him but we met on his book pages. However, I miss you Al.

    • February 26, 2012 11:04 am

      He was one of a kind, Ossi. Our community joins you in missing him.

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