Port Angeles baseball/softball volunteer leader Jim Lunt dies at age 71
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Longtime North Olympic Baseball and Softball president Jim Lunt looks out over a Lincoln Park playfield in 2009. Lunt died Monday at age 71.

By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — For generations of Port Angeles baseball and softball-playing youth who fielded a grounder, caught a pop fly or swung for the fences, Jim Lunt was the humble man in charge of it all.

Lunt, a tireless volunteer advocate for youth baseball and softball — and young people in general in Port Angeles for more than 30 years, died Monday. He was 71.

A family-submitted funeral notice listed natural causes.

Lunt served as president of the all-volunteer North Olympic Baseball and Softball program for more than 25 years, and was the league secretary, a coach and a Cal Ripken Regional Softball commissioner at the time of his passing.

He also drove a school bus for the Port Angeles School District in his retirement.

“He cared so much about the youth, the community, and the program as a whole,” said Warren Stevens, a North Olympic Baseball and Softball board member and longtime coach.

“Everything about him was Lincoln Park [home to the Port Angeles program].

“How we could make the experience better, how to improve the facility, how to improve the coaching, how to grow the league.

“He was the backbone of the program, and I don't honestly know how we will fill all the titles he held.”

Condolences poured in on the North Olympic Baseball and Softball Facebook page at tinyurl.com/PDN-NOBS as Lunt's contributions to the community were recognized by many of the thousands of former players, coaches and volunteers who have been part of the North Olympic program.

“He was the kind of guy who's special in a community,” said Stephen M. Zenovic of Zenovic & Associates civil engineering and land surveying in Port Angeles and the Port Angeles Nor'wester Rotary Club.

“He was always there when needed, and that went for anybody who needed help, from little guys to adults,” Zenovic said.

“He always said yes.”

His efforts were honored in 2009 with a Clallam County Community Service Award, sponsored by the Peninsula Daily News and Soroptimist International of Port Angeles-Noon Club.

“We tried for years to get him to agree to put him up for the award,” Zenovic said.

“Finally, we just said 'we are nominating you' and he wasn't unhappy, just kind of chagrined he was getting the award.”

During the 2009 ceremony, Lunt said he was uncomfortable receiving the honor.

“You shouldn't expect praise for doing what you know is right in the first place,” Lunt said.

“Doing what's right in the first place has its own intrinsic rewards.”

In nominating Lunt for the award, Rick Ross, director of athletics and student programs at Peninsula College, wrote about Lunt's contributions in many different jobs at the college, including residence hall manager, financial aid director, student government adviser and athletic director.

“He was especially instrumental in bringing back [intercollegiate] athletics to Peninsula in 1997, [working] with a team of college and community members to resurrect a program that has since brought Peninsula much success,” Ross wrote.

Ross was one of five letter writers who nominated Lunt for the honor.

Lunt is “the driving force and strength behind our successful [baseball] program, spending more than 30 hours a week volunteering at Lincoln Park or devoting his time conducting League business during the season,” wrote Leslie Diimmel of Port Angeles.

This level of commitment continued after he told North Olympic board members he would step away from the presidency before last season.

“Jim said it was time for him to step down and time for him to hand over the program to a new president,” Stevens said.

“He printed out his duties for the board and then left the room while we voted.

“Everybody took a look at what he did and all the duties he held and we just said there's no way one person could do all this work.

“But Jim did.”

Quick-witted and fast with a quip, Lunt had a softer side away from the field.

“He had that dry sense of humor, but I had a chance to talk with him outside of the game on long car rides to tournaments,” Stevens said.

“And what struck me when he was away from the sport was his compassion.

“He had to keep up that front a little bit, but he let it be known how much he cared for the league and the kids.”

Stevens remembered how Lunt could run into a former player years after his career was over and provide detailed statistical information.

“He could tell you everything about a person,” Stevens said.

“Jim could remember specific at-bats a kid may have had in 1990, he had that strong of a memory.”

Lunt was a charter member of the Port Angeles Nor'wester Rotary Club and a past president from 1980-81.

“I remember when Soroptimists and Rotary were working together on the Valley Creek Estuary Park,” Zenovic said.

“I ran into him one day down there, all by himself, pulling weeds, and he told me he was there because the weeding needed to be done.

“Nobody asked him to go do that, and he never made a big deal about what he was doing, but that was the type of person he was.

“He didn't want to get noticed, he just wanted to get stuff done.”

Going forward, North Olympic Baseball and Softball will need ample assistance in maintaining Lunt's level of service.

“As long as Jim was there he wouldn't let the program fall,” Stevens said.

“Now it will be up to everybody else since we don't have him.”

“We are going to have to pick it all up, and it's going to be up to the other volunteers to keep things going, if nothing more than as a memorial for Jim.

“If the program were to dissolve he would be crushed, and it would be a disservice to Jim.

“It will be a lot of work, and the community will have to rally.”

A celebration of life for Lunt is planned for Lincoln Park's Field No. 1 on Saturday, Sept. 27.

A full obituary with more details will be published soon.

________

Sports reporter Michael Carman can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5152 or at mcarman@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: August 26. 2014 8:51PM
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