Teacher August Lundquist, 69, fought law on pledge in schools

June 30, 1996|By Rafael Alvarez | Rafael Alvarez,SUN STAFF

At the end of his busy life, Gus Lundquist needed six units of oxygen a week, more than most folks with severe lung problems. But it didn't keep the retired Anne Arundel County history teacher from doing most everything he loved.

"Dad would grab his oxygen, put the top down on the convertible and drive out to visit me in Columbus [Ohio]," said his oldest son, Eric, with whom Mr. Lundquist successfully challenged a 1970 Maryland law requiring teachers and students in public schools to pledge allegiance to the flag.

August L. Lundquist -- retired Navy lieutenant, attorney, scout leader, long distance bicyclist, lover of ice cream, anti-hunger activist and family man with an opinion on everything -- died at his Linthicum home Tuesday after a six-year illness. He was 69.

Said his wife of 44 years, the former Anne Marie Hock: "Teaching was his passion. The hours he taught enabled him to spend more time with his family than being a full-time lawyer. He loved teaching, opening up doors. He made history come alive."

One of Mr. Lundquist's favorite tools for showing kids how things really work in the United States was the phone book. At Brooklyn Park Senior High School, where he taught for 30 years until 1991, Mr. Lundquist made government real by using the blue pages to show that an agency like the Soil Conservation Service had an address and phone number in Cockeysville available to anyone.

Born in Barnesboro in southwestern Pennsylvania, Mr. Lundquist joined the Navy after graduating from high school in 1944. After two years of active duty, he went to college on the GI Bill and earned a bachelor's degree in history from Franklin and Marshall College in 1950.

He returned to active duty during the Korean War and met his future wife while attending combat information school in Illinois. In December 1952, he and Anne Marie were married in Newport, R.I., where Mr. Lundquist was stationed as an ensign.

He rose to full lieutenant, was discharged in 1953 and remained in the Navy reserve until 1972. In 1954, he began his public high school teaching career in Georgia, and from 1959-1960 served as principal at the Georgia State Training School for Boys.

In recent years, he volunteered at the Thomas Farrell Youth Center, a state facility for troubled youths in Marriottsville. He took the boys camping and canoeing.

"Dad always said that whether it was the Boy Scouts or school or a place like Thomas Farrell, it was always 10 percent of the kids who give you all the trouble," said his son, Arthur, of New York City.

A 1965 graduate of the University of Baltimore law school, Mr. Lundquist attracted his greatest notoriety in 1970 by challenging Maryland's pledge of allegiance law.

Testifying against the law in court, he said: "This country is great because it rests on the individual and his faith in his country with its principles of democracy . . . To force patriotism on anyone is repulsive to me and ultimately an act of futility, for patriotism is something you feel, something you believe, something you do as you are part of your country, but it is something that cannot be forced."

The law was overturned by the state Court of Appeals on Flag Day 1971.

"I think that case is why my Dad never made it in politics," said his daughter, Christine Lundquist Fillat of South Baltimore. "The funny thing is, he really loved flags. He collected them from every nation and always flew the American flag out front."

A guy who loved wearing his Kentucky colonel's tie and singing "Queenie the Queen of Burlesque" while paddling a canoe, Mr. Lundquist's other passions included making stew over the early American fireplace he had built into his kitchen, housing exchange students from around the world and nurturing a Maryland Food Bank program he founded called "Garden Share," in which scouts collect surplus vegetables from backyard gardens for the poor.

Services will be held 1 p.m. Monday at the George J. Gonce Funeral Home, 4001 Ritchie Highway in Brooklyn.

Other survivors include a third son, John, of Baltimore, a brother, retired Army Col. Carl W. Lundquist, of Boston; a sister, Linda L. Dahlquist, of Florham Park, N.J.; and two grandchildren.

Contributions can be made to the Maryland Food Bank, 241 North Franklintown Rd., Baltimore, Md. 21223.

Pub Date: 6/30/96

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