Putting others first: ALS Spirit Night honors restaurant manager's kin


Retiring Newnan Dwarf House manager Allen Queen’s nephew Chris was recently diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, and the restaurant hosted ALS Spirit Night in his honor. From left are Dana, Chris, Carla and Allen Queen.

By REBECCA LEFTWICH rebecca@newnan.com When Randy Burgess was newly 16, he followed his mom and two brothers into a job at Chick-fil-A and soon found himself in the dish room with a broken dishwasher during the lunchtime rush. That's the moment his manager, Allen Queen, became one of his heroes.
"They finally got the dishwasher working around two o'clock," said Burgess, who is taking the helm of the Newnan Dwarf House when Queen officially retires in April after 31 years with the company. "When I had cleared all the dishes, Allen came in and gave me a $10 bill. He didn't have to do that, and it's just one aspect of his generosity. He always puts others first, and he really is a servant leader." Burgess was on duty during a recent ALS Spirit Night in honor of Queen's nephew, 44-year-old Chris Queen, who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis a few months ago. ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a disease of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement. Burgess was not surprised by the outpouring of support for the Queen family, and neither was former Dwarf House manager Kim Donnan-Goltermann, who also crossed paths with Queen as a teenager. "He is the type of person who would do anything for you, go out of his way to do it," said Donnan-Goltermann, who worked for Chick-fil-A from 1993-2001. "He'd take the shirt off his back to help you. He wasn't afraid to take out trash to make sure we had enough people up front in the restaurant. Anything that we did well, he never took credit for. It was always 'the team did it.' He always shared everything with us." Queen's wife, Carla, worked alongside him and the teens he mentored for 23 years, but her priority was sons Matt and Shan and nephew Chris, whom Carla watched for his working mother from the time he was a toddler. "He is like my son," Carla said. In the past three years, Chris has lost his mother, sister and nephew. He and his wife Dana have five children ages 3-16, and his ALS diagnosis was particularly difficult for the Queen family. "We are just praying for a miracle," Carla said, adding the family was "overwhelmed" when Chick-fil-A offered to sponsor ALS Spirit Night. The Newnan Dwarf House wasn't just overflowing with former employees but with old friends as well. Congressman Lynn Westmoreland, a high school classmate of Allen and Carla Queen, dropped by, and "Big Daddy" Marion Alley was there, as he has been for the past 30 years, to support his friends. "They are darling people," Alley said.

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