The legacy of Francis Xavier “Dale” Tran

Photo courtesy of Joy Mapaye

Father. Husband. Community activist.

Dale Tran’s profound legacy lives on through his family and through his lasting impact on the Anchorage community. He passed away in January of 2017.

A refugee from Saigon, Tran came to the United States with his family in 1975, settling first in Florida and then in Seattle. He enlisted in the Washington Army National Guard, citing an obligation to serve a country that provided for freedom. He eventually moved to Anchorage in 1996 and carried with him the sense of community and faith shown to him during his early years in the U.S.

Working with Kaladi Brothers, Tran helped to fully develop their “Catalyst for Community” brand, an ideology that Tran demonstrated throughout his life. The most decisive example of his giving spirit came in the form of the Kaladi Brothers annual New Year’s Day giving event. On Jan. 1 of this year, the initiative was renamed “Dale Tran’s New Year’s Day Giving,” to honor him.

The result of his focused and determined effort was over $1 million raised for non-profit organizations in Anchorage. While working as chief financial officer for Kaladi Brothers, Tran voluntarily served in several community positions, including the 49th State Angel Fund Board, Tanaina Child Development Task Force and the UAA Chancellor’s Advisory Board.

Photo by Chase Burnett

Dale Street, located between Tudor Road and 40th Avenue, was recognized in his memory by the Anchorage Assembly on Jan. 23. Numerous signs bearing his name line the road and culminate at a memorial. Various pathways connecting parts of the community, including the University, meet at the memorial. The connection of the pathways symbolizes his belief in the power to come together and the idea that everyone has the ability to be part of something bigger than themselves.

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“He always believed you can do great things as an individual, but as a community you can do amazing things. This is who he was. He was self-giving,” Tran’s wife, Joy Mapaye, journalism professor at UAA, said.

Photo courtesy of Joy Mapaye

Kaladi Brothers President Tim Gravel joined the American Marketing Association in creating a college scholarship. In the spirit of Tran’s selfless service, donations to the AMA and F.X. Dale Tran Memorial Scholarship are matched at a ratio of 3-to-1. If you or someone you know would like to donate to the scholarship, please visit here.

The Bean’s Cafe, creator of the “Children’s Lunchbox” initiative, named their new kitchen in honor of Tran. The program provides more than 300,000 meals to children in Anchorage throughout the year.

“We should always remember to be giving, to consider others,” Mapaye said.

What can we do for our community? How can we be a catalyst for change?

Tran consistently and relentlessly asked these questions and took steps to answer them. His passing represents a tremendous loss for the Anchorage area. A true believer in the power of connection: the change, action and sense of community that he inspired will live on for future generations to witness.