An elegant fellow, a thoughtful and well-informed writer with broad interests. That’s how colleagues recalled Jim Lynn, a former editorial board writer for Newsday.
His daughters agreed with the assessment, and added that he also was a man of integrity and honor and a committed and sentimental father.
Lynn, 88, of Lynbrook, died on Aug. 10 of heart failure due to COVID-19 during a short hospitalization at Long Island Jewish Valley Stream hospital, said his daughters, Nina Lynn and Nora Curry.
“He always said he felt so lucky to have had the opportunities that he had,” Nina Lynn said. “He also felt a great responsibility to use what he had been given, well and honorably.”
James Klurfeld, editorial page editor for Newsday from 1987 to 2007, remembered his friend and colleague as someone who represented old-fashioned virtues.
“He was a terrific editor, a very careful fine, fine editor who always improved your writing,” Klurfeld said. “He improved my writing. I won an award for best editorials one year, and I owe it all to Jim, who I often showed my material to before I published it.”
Carol Richards, editorial page deputy editor from 1987 to 2006, said during those years the editorial board was strong with smart, passionate people whose political leanings covered a wide range of beliefs. Lynn was the person to count on to be informed on liberal politics.
“When we were having a debate about some issue, almost always political or governmental, Jim had opinions that people would listen to,” Richards said. “He wasn’t a knee-jerk liberal; he was a well-informed liberal.”
James Lynn was born on June 14, 1934, in Houlton, Maine. His daughters said he moved a lot as a youth, a consequence of his father’s job as a manager for an East Coast department store chain. He graduated from high school in Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania, where a teacher suggested he apply to Princeton University. He took the advice and was accepted.
His experience at Princeton set him on a life-changing course, his daughters said.
“When he got to Princeton, his world opened up in so many ways,” Nora Curry said. “He made lifelong friends, he got to be with other people who loved reading and writing and thinking the way that he did; he’d not had that before. It was his first introduction to bagels.”
After college, he moved to New York City and eventually was hired by Newsday in September 1972. He retired from the newspaper in 2002.
His family — including his devoted partner of 30 years, Dora Potter — knew they were the center of his universe, his daughters said. They said their father set a foundation for them to live a life with empathy and public service.
He made one final act of public service: he donated his body to science.
“To my dad, it was sensible,” Nora Curry said. “It’s like ‘someone can use this and learn from it,’ and it’s so much easier for us; he’s taken care of everything for us — which is what he wanted.”
A memorial is planned for the fall.