Obituary: Lynne H. Saunders
Sports entrepreneur, pioneer in large-crowd security, great-grandfather
Lynne Saunders, a much loved father, brother, son, uncle, grandfather, great grandfather and friend, died July 31 of natural causes in Hemet, with family and friends by his side. He was 74 years old.
He was born in Pomona on April 21, 1944 to loving parents Fiske and Elaine Saunders and big sister Melinda.
Mr. Saunders graduated from Claremont High School in 1962 and married his high school sweetheart, Janie Ormiston (now Hart). After graduation he managed Keystone Wood Products in Montclair, and later worked for Gulf Oil in Azusa.
When his parents decided to emigrate to Australia, the young couple went with them. In Australia, Mr. and Mrs. Saunders welcomed their daughters Kelly and Meagan.
He and his parents bought a general store, Milk Bar, in Eltham, Victoria, near Melbourne. They worked together for four years before returning to California after selling the business.
Upon his return he partnered with a friend and eventually formed the Benrich Manufacturing Company, which made vanity cabinets for the home improvement industry. After selling that company, he and a new partner began the Waterbed Warehouse Company, which grew to include five stores in Orange County. After three years he sold the waterbed company to his partner, he and his wife divorced, and he took a part time job with Stadium Motorsports Corp., a firm that produced indoor motocross races at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Mr. Saunders eventually introduced a new motorcycle sport, which would come to be known as Supercross. He stayed with Stadium Motorsports for four years, producing California races in Anaheim, Oakland, Long Beach, San Diego and Los Angeles, as well as others in Atlanta, Georgia and Houston, Texas. The company became the largest promoters of indoor motorsports in the nation.
He stayed in the sports and entertainment field for many years in different capacities: he brought professional soccer to Orange County with the California Surf, which played at the Anaheim Stadium (now Angel Stadium); worked with an indoor soccer franchise, The Detroit Lightening, at Cobo Hall (now Cobo Center) in Detroit, Michigan; and was the executive vice president of operations with Contemporary Services Corp. (CSC) for the next 35 years.
In between time with CSC he married Mari Tashiro; ran several Nutrisystem centers in the San Francisco area; sold individual wind turbines in the Altamont Pass; managed the Morongo Bingo hall in Cabazon; worked crowd management for the San Francisco 49ers professional football team; and as a security and crowd management specialist at 19 National Football League Super Bowl games.
In 2008, he and Mari divorced after 28 years of marriage and he moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, where his daughter Kelly and husband Brian were living with their four boys.
In 2014, Mr. Saunders moved to Hemet to take care of his sister’s home after she moved to Sunriver, Oregon.
The family would like to extend a special thanks to Dr. Locks and the staff at Hemet Valley Medical Center for the loving and special care given to Mr. Saunders in his final days.
His family and friends were blessed with his unwavering friendship and love, they shared.
“His guidance with coworkers paved the way for new security procedures being streamlined and perfected,” they added. “He never gave up the ties he made with either. You could always count on his support.”
His mother, Elaine Saunders, and father, Fiske Saunders, preceded him in death.
He is survived by his daughters, Kelly Hein (Brian) of Phoenix and Meagan Trevizo (Greg) of San Leandro, California; sister, Melinda Melrose (Tom) of Sunriver, Oregon; cousins, Roxanne Thornton of Santa Rosa, California and Dennis Page (Marcy) of Beverly Hills, Michigan; niece, Nicole Haithcock (Shane); nephew, Eric Flourie of Baja California; grandchildren, Brandon, Jordon, Julian, Auston, Isabel, Dalton and Alexis; and a great-granddaughter, six month-old Kalliope.
Services will be held in the coming months at Claremont’s Oak Park Cemetery. Details will follow on Mr. Saunders’ personal Facebook page as well as on those of his daughters, sister and high school class.
“As Lynne liked to say, ‘Been there, done that, next!’” his family shared. “He will be missed but not forgotten, and we will always carry your memory in our hearts.”