Kirk Players community theater founder John Lynn dies

  • Mundelein's John Lynn, founder of the Kirk Players community theater group, died Tuesday. He was 83.

    Mundelein's John Lynn, founder of the Kirk Players community theater group, died Tuesday. He was 83. Paul Valade/Daily Herald 2005 file photo

Updated 8/28/2013 5:37 PM

Longtime Mundelein resident and local theater founder John Lynn was remembered as a kind, family man who believed in giving back to the community.

He died Tuesday at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville. Lynn, 83, most recently was bestowed the Robert E. Gard Superior Volunteer Award from the American Association of Community Theatre.


He founded the volunteer Kirk Players theater group in 1966 and retired in 2001. He also was involved with the annual Mundelein pageants and other community efforts for decades.

Jon Lynn said he'll always remember his father's sense of family and wanting everyone together for the holidays. Not only was John Lynn into theater, but he also was a die-hard Cubs fan who at one time played serious 16-inch softball, his son said.

Paddy Lynn said her father-in-law went beyond donating profits from all Kirk Players shows to worthwhile charitable organizations. He also believed in having free summer theater workshops for children ages 7 to 13, which started at least 40 years ago.

"He was all about community service," Paddy Lynn said, "and he stressed that to the Kirk Players on a regular basis."

John Lynn -- also known for his previous service as the Lake County Fair pageant coordinator -- volunteered for 13 years with the Mundelein Community Days commission, which puts on the town's annual summer festival. His legacy of community service drew praise from local officials.

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"John's a guy everybody liked," Mundelein Trustee Ray Semple said. "His love of the community was very sincere."

Fremont Township Supervisor and Lake County Board member Diana O'Kelly's children were involved with Kirk Players when they were younger. She recalled Lynn as "a wonderful gentleman" who was a local icon.

"It's a big loss for the community," O'Kelly said.

As an actor, John Lynn appeared in locally shot motion pictures including "Groundhog Day", "Return to Me" and "My Best Friend's Wedding".

He was honored during a March village board meeting for his work in community theater and for the years he spent volunteering in Mundelein. He also received an Outstanding Citizen Award from the village.

Kirk Players main stage shows have averaged 3,000 patrons annually since the troupe's inception in 1966. Beverly Johnson, a 15-year Kirk Players member, said the group plans to keep alive Lynn's vision of affordable, quality community theater that helps others in the process.


"He was just a really sweet, fatherly man," Johnson said.

Visitation will be at Kristan Funeral Home, 219 W. Maple Ave. in Mundelein, from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday.

A funeral is set for 11 a.m. Friday at Kirk of the Lakes Presbyterian Church, 1500 W. Hawley St. in Mundelein. A luncheon at the church will follow.

Jon Lynn said all six pallbearers will wear Cubs ties in recognition of his father's favorite team. John Lynn will be buried in his Cubs tie, his son said.

Instead of flowers, donations can be sent to Kirk of the Lakes Presbyterian Church in the name of John Lynn, a founding member. His theater group began at Kirk of the Lakes and adopted the first name after moving out of the church to stage shows elsewhere.

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