St. Petersburg Times - St. Petersburg, Fla.
Author: MIKE BRASSFIELD
Date: Jul 18, 2002


His life of solitude had a voice familiar to many

Those who never knew Christian Lund might assume he led a bleak and unhappy life. Lund was a 65-year-old heavy smoker who lived alone in a tiny trailer, a stranger to his neighbors. He spent his days in a wheelchair because circulation problems cost him a leg. This was Lund's state when he died in an accidental fire in his home Saturday. But in the days since the fire, strangers keep showing up at Tangerine Mobile Home Park at 21st Street and 16th Avenue S. They leave little flags and flowers. They stick crosses in the ground next to Lund's burned trailer.

Lund, it turns out, led a life rich with friends. Every morning, he talked to a hundred people he got to know without ever leaving home. His citizens band radio was always on. For a decade, Lund has been a mainstay in Tampa Bay's tightknit CB community. Thousands knew him as "the Duke," a friendly voice and a constant presence on Channel 19. "He was always listening," said Cedric Harris, a St. Petersburg 17-year-old who goes by the CB handle "Kool-Aid." "Everybody on the radio liked and respected him."

This Saturday morning, Lund's fellow CBers will gather to remember him at 10 a.m. at Freedom Lake Park, 9990 46th St. N. Before cell phones and pagers, there were citizens band radios. After the CB craze of the mid '70s, the radios fell out of favor. But Lund's friends say there are still thousands of CBers in the Tampa Bay area, including the 100 or so who checked in with Lund each morning.

Lund was an Army medic in Korea and Vietnam. When he got out of the service, he drove trucks. His CB handle was "the Duke" because he idolized John Wayne. He moved to St. Petersburg in the early '90s. For years, truckers lost in south Pinellas County knew to get on their CBs and ask the Duke for directions. "That was his thing, helping out the truck drivers. He was sort of a staple," said his friend Harry Solomon, who goes by the CB handle "Drano."

The range of Lund's radio was usually 20 to 30 miles. But sometimes, when the weather was right, he could talk to people across the country. In 1986, when he lived in Allentown, Pa., he picked up a Mayday from the captain of a fishing boat that was on fire and sinking off the coast of Miami, 1,400 miles away. The crew's marine radio was damaged, so the CB was their only hope. Lund relayed the boat's longitude and latitude to the Coast Guard. All six people on board were rescued. For that, Lund received a presidential citation signed by Ronald Reagan.

The fire in Lund's trailer Saturday started around the stove. His friends suspect a cooking fire. By the time the blaze was out, about all that was left was a CB antenna sticking up in the air. Lund's prized possession, his Galaxy Melaka CB radio, was charred.

"I'll bet that man spent 6 or 8 hours a day on the radio," said his close friend, Merrill Benway of Palm Harbor. "Duke had a very, very distinctive voice. Everybody knew when Duke was on the air."