The Iowa State Cyclones have lost one of their biggest fans.
Alan Lem, age 62, passed away peacefully at his home on January 10, exactly five years from diagnosis of Glioblastoma/brain cancer. It was the Hilton Magic, that only a Cyclone fan would know, that gave him the power to fight to the very end. 17 months in Hospice care is amazing!
He was born in Des Moines, IA on Mother’s Day, nearly three weeks overdue, just shy of 10 pounds. His family moved to Ames, which started his love for his beloved Cyclones.
After graduation from Ames High, he attended the University of Northern Iowa, but took a gap year to work at the Keystone Resort in CO and perfect his skiing and “socializing” skills. He returned to Ames to graduate from Iowa State, and later earned an MBA from the University of St. Thomas.
Once back in Iowa, Alan reconnected with his high school and UNI classmate, Brenda Griffin, and had the nerve to bring his adorable nephew, Tony (Al loved babies, and so does Brenda!), into the bank where she worked, and that’s all it took! They married in 1986, but only after Brenda met Al’s requirement to learn how to waterski (it’s true!).
His career in Healthcare Finance began in Des Moines with Share-Iowa, and a promotion with United Healthcare required the move to Minneapolis. He then worked at University Affiliated Family Physicians, St. Francis Regional Medical Center, and retired from Fairview Health Services after the cancer diagnosis. He practiced his team skills at every level, and established great friends along the way. One “blip” was a scolding by the Sisters at St. Francis for “gambling” within the facility (a.k.a. the football pool!)
When time allowed, “Big Al” was watching an ISU game, but his focus was always family, then friends. He loved being involved with the boys’ activities and lately, seeing the grandchildren brought him great joy. Alan would also cherish time in the boat, on the deck or around the campfire with family and friends (so many stories!). Live music and sporting events were important to him, as well as a good barbecue and Jim Beam. And he lived to travel! Alan planned most of the family vacations (his favorite was the Grand Canyon rafting trip), and thankfully, Al and Brenda had taken several awesome trips once the boys left home/before diagnosis. They snuck in an African Safari, plus trips to Arkansas and Lambeau Field a few years ago, to fulfill Alan’s bucket list.
Preceded in death by his parents, Paul and Norma Jean, brother, Brian, and nephew, B.J.
Survived by his wife, Brenda, sons Connor (Madison) and Brady, grandchildren Roman (age 4) and Margot (age 2 1/2), brother Rick (Ann), sister-in-law, Sally, Brenda’s parents, Dennis and Karen Griffin, brother-in-law, Kevin Griffin, sister-in-law, Paula (Rick) Nablo, plus nieces Katie (Sean) Blomgren, and Shelby Lem (Fiance Will Stith), and nephews Tyler (Rachel) Lem, Tony (Ashlea) Lem Jack Lem, Miles (Sophie) Nablo and Pierce Nablo. And so many loving and supportive friends and extended family members–THANK YOU!
The family would like to thank the M Health medical staff, including Dr. Chen and Dr. Neil, the Fairview Hospice nurse Jennie and aides Malen, Sheville and Laura, plus the Lifespark staff of Darleen and Mercy for taking such excellent care of Alan. Additionally, thank you to our end-of-life doula, Cynthia, for her invaluable guidance and love.
His dry sense of humor made everyone laugh, even during important meetings, tense moments and Hospice visits. He was the life of the party! His love for his family, friends and mighty Cyclones was only rivaled by his desire for ice cream and Diet Mountain Dew. He will be sorely missed.
A celebration of life will be held on Friday, May 3, 4-7 pm at Hyland Hills Ski Area in Bloomington, MN.
In lieu of flowers, please take the trip, order the lobster, cheer on the Cyclones, go make memories, but if you must, please donate to the University of Minnesota Brain Cancer Research Fund.