Those who knew and loved Dollie Lynch called her a "spark," a "beautiful butterfly" and a "cheerleader" for her community.
VANCOUVER, Wash. — Those who knew and loved Dollie Lynch called her a “spark,” a “beautiful butterfly” and a “cheerleader” for her community.
The Vancouver stalwart and one-half of a couple well-known for their generous giving died Saturday of cancer at the age of 84.
“She had 84 good years, and I had 62 good years,” her husband, businessman Ed Lynch, said Saturday afternoon. “You really can’t complain about that.”
Besides her husband, Dollie Lynch is survived by four children, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
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“When Dollie walked in the room, it was like a beautiful butterfly walked in,” former Vancouver Mayor and family friend Royce Pollard said. “Everybody turned to her; everybody wanted to talk to her.”
Ed Lynch, 89, who retired in 1985 as president of Kiewit Pacific, met Virginialee “Dollie” Lynch when she was a student at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she was in the same sorority as Ed’s sister.
They married, and she finished school while he served in World War II. She taught school for two years, and then became a homemaker after he finished his degree at Stanford University.
“She was very outgoing and knew a world of people; she was a real spark personality,” Ed Lynch said. “She loved flowers and has a beautiful yard to show it. She had four children who grew up to become good citizens. She was active.”
Dollie Lynch’s passing is the third death of a major Clark County philanthropist this year: E.W. Firstenburg died Aug. 21 and Ray Hickey died April 14. It was also the third death of a prominent local citizen this week: Former state legislator Bill Fromhold and Columbian editor emeritus Tom Koenninger both died Thursday.
“It certainly has been a summer and fall where we have lost too many of our community icons, our founders if you will, and Dollie and Ed have been chief among them,” Fort Vancouver National Trust President Elson Strahan said. “It is a tremendous loss for our community. It’s really difficult to even describe how I feel about it, simply because there is no one that had a brighter smile or more caring spirit.”
The Lynches have given their support to an array of causes over the years, including the Fort Vancouver National Trust, Identity Clark County, Columbia Springs Foundation, Construction Education Foundation for Oregon State University, Vancouver Methodist Foundation, Northwest House of Theological Studies, and Southwest Washington Medical Center Foundation.
They gave $1 million to Southwest Washington Medical Center in 2006 during a $50 million capital- funding drive.
In 2002, they gave 9.6 acres north of their home in Northwest Vancouver to the Community Foundation of Southwest Washington. The city of Vancouver bought the land from the foundation for $1 million for a park.
Ed Lynch said that of all their donations, Dollie held those to their church, First United Methodist, and to children close to her heart. They gave to the I Have a Dream Foundation and the Boys & Girls Club, among other children’s causes.
Dollie and Ed Lynch were the first couple to receive the First Citizens of Southwest Washington Award in 1992. They were named philanthropists of the year by the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington in 2005. They received the Washington Generals award in 2006. They were the grand marshals of the Vancouver Veterans Day Parade in 2007.
Strahan said that Ed and Dollie were seminal in helping the Fort Vancouver National Trust take shape in the mid-1990s.
“They were truly the mainstay both in regards to vision and financial support to ensure the trust flourished,” he said. “Without the support they have given, particularly in those early years, the organization simply wouldn’t be where it is today.”
A celebration of life, open to the public, will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, at the First United Methodist Church, 401 E. 33rd St. Instead of flowers, donations may be made to Open House Ministries.