Tim Lundy (1955 – 2023)
Professor Joe Goldblatt
Humility is not an adjective often used to describe a giant among others in the spectacularly competitive and often over the top field of special events production. It uniquely and perfectly suits my friend of nearly fifty years, Tim Lundy, who sadly passed away in his beloved USA state of North Carolina on 29 June 2023 after a remarkable lifetime of dramatically improving the field of live events.
Although I cannot recall our first meeting, it seemed to me that when I learned of his passing that I had known him throughout my entire adult life. For example, when my wife and I immigrated to Scotland fifteen years ago, one of our first visitors from the United States was Tim. Not long after our arrival he sent me an email saying he would like to come for a short visit. I am convinced that one of the purposes of his visit, was to check upon our well being. This may seem extraordinary to travel such a distance to check on old friends as they make a new life in a far away land, however, Tim was a generous care giver throughout his sixty – eight years on earth. There was no limit to his caring for others as exemplified when he showed up at my front door resplendently wearing the colourful kilt of his Scottish ancestors. And no one ever looked better in a kilt than Tim Lundy!
During a particularly turbulent time in our lives I returned to higher education to earn my master and doctoral degrees, Tim also was going through some significant personal changes. I was concerned for his health and sent him by Federal Express an intimate letter offering to come and visit him and help him through this difficult time. He immediately phoned me to thank me for my concern and then in his quiet way said, “I have faith that I will get through this. Thank you for believing in me.”
Thousands of people all over the world believed in Tim Lundy due to his extraordinary talents in culinary and visual arts, his both gentle and firm leadership of international organisations, and his steadfast devotion to his family and friends that earned him throughout his life great respect and unconditional love.
I once produced a fashion show in his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia and at the last minute we required a fainting couch for a scene in the production. Not knowing whom to call, I rang Tim and he personally designed, fabricated, and delivered the couch to the local convention centre. I was flabergasted that a man who had catered gala dinners for thousands and led major international associations would stop and help a friend in need with such a minor request. I am also certain that there are hundreds of other private stories like this about this truly good and great man.
The true test of leadership I suppose is courage and great leaders display this trait when they must make a decision that may be unpopular with others including your long time friends.
When Tim was the leader of an international organisation whose future was in jeopardy he consulted with his other board members and agreed to form a coalition with an organisation that some of his members did not believe shared the same values of those who had founded the association. Tim took the time to explain his views to the founders, answer their questions, and then did what was right at that time for his industry. I shall always respect him for this difficult and correct decision.
After this decision was made he asked to meet me at a local airport and he reached inside his satchel and produced a gold ornate framed certificate that awarded me the Lifetime Achievement honour from the association that I had helped to create. There was no spotlight, no music, no roar of applause, just two men who loved and respected one another sharing memories and beers in a small booth in a dark corner of a cafe as we silently smiled at our good fortune of being close friends.
He also was a keen trout fisherman and in that regard reminded me of Scotland’s patron Saint Andrew for whom we celebrate our national day. Tim emulated Saint Andrew by frequently feeding the poor and he was always the first to support charitable causes both publicly and privately even during times when his own business was often in need of help as well.
As I cherish Tim’s unique friendship I hear the melody and lyrics from Rodgers and Hamerstein’s song from The King and I running through my brain. Whilst not all these words apply to Tim, most apply at some time or another to each of us.
This is a man who thinks with his heart,
His heart is not always wise.
This is a man who stumbles and falls,
But this is a man who tries.
This is a man you’ll forgive and forgive,
And help protect, as long as you live…
He will not always say
What you would have him say,
But now and then he’ll do
He has a thousand dreams
That won’t come true,
You know that he believes in them
And that’s enough for you.
You’ll always go along,
Defend him where he’s wrong
And tell him, when he’s strong
He is Wonderful
He’ll always need your love
And so he’ll get your love-
A man who needs your love
Can be Wonderful.
Most of Tim’s dreams actually came true as evidenced by the many times he spoke with great and enthusiastic affection about his beloved daughter and grandchildren. His family was indeed his most cherished special event production.
The special events industry that Tim helped to create, sustain, and grow is significantly better today because of this quiet man whose powerful efforts around the world have meant so much to so many for so long. He was indeed something wonderful and his sweet and good memory shall be a blessing to anyone who dreams of creating or attending big events. The next time you attend an event, if you listen carefully you may hear his calm and steady voice of joy in the laughter of those around you and if you pause and look at the guests you will still see the many smiles one quiet man helped generate during his remarkable lifetime.
Professor Joe Goldblatt is Emeritus Professor of Planned Events at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, Scotland and was the founding president of the International Special Events Society (now known as the International Live Events Association). To learn more about his views visit www.joegoldblatt.scot