Mundelein's John Lynn remembered for love of theater, volunteerism
To some, longtime Mundelein resident John Lynn was a father, and later a grandfather.
To others, he was a community theater leader, a church parishioner, a pageant organizer, a volunteer.
To so many, he was Papa John.
Friends and relatives filled the sanctuary of the Kirk of the Lakes Presbyterian Church on Friday morning to remember Lynn, 83, who died Tuesday after an illness.
They shared as many smiles as tears, laughing about the man whose acting career led to Mundelein and the creation of the Kirk Players community theater group in 1966, a group he led for decades.
One of his sons, Jon, was among the speakers who addressed the crowd during the service. Right at the start, he asked how many people in the pews remembered the elder Lynn laughing an unmistakable laugh at the back of an auditorium.
Many nodded or raised their hands.
"The laugh is a great image," Jon Lynn said. "The laugh is a great place to start. My whole life, he was larger than life. He was infectious."
Jon Lynn also shared memories of tender moments -- like playing catch with him for hours as the daylight waned. The ball hurt his hand through the mitt, Jon said, but he never told his dad.
"Those were some of the greatest moments of my life growing up," Jon said.
Jesse Lynn, John's grandson, talked about how Lynn did so much with the time he had, and the people whose lives he affected.
Among them was Sheila Bourque, president of the Kirk Players board. In her eulogy, Bourque spoke not only of Lynn's work in the theater but also the spirit of volunteerism he instilled in the group and its members.
Because of Lynn, Bourque said, the Kirk Players awards performing arts scholarships, gives grants to local elementary school districts and contributes to the community in many other ways. It even organized a local poetry slam that remained on the schedule for Friday night despite Lynn's passing.
"That is the legacy that John Lynn has left us," she said.
But again and again, the stories came back to acting, and the theater. People talked about Lynn's days as a poor actor in New York City, his work for the Goodman Theatre in Chicago and, of course, his time with the Kirk Players.
Bourque talked about how it didn't matter to Lynn if an actor had any talent. Interest in acting was enough to find a suitable role.
"John believed in the power of the ensemble," Bourque said. "He would take the weak and the strong and blend them into magic. Absolute magic."
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