Former Journal Gazette editorial cartoonist Dan Lynch died Sunday at a Fort Wayne hospital.
But for his family and those who knew him, it almost felt like a second death after a 2001 stroke robbed the gifted artist and writer of his ability to communicate.
“Some people are kind of able to come back from that and rally,” said his former wife, Janet Lynch. “He was never able to replace all that he lost. He really lamented that.”
Dan Lynch’s stroke came two weeks to the day after 9/11, an event that deeply affected him, Janet Lynch said.
His eldest child, son Kelly Lynch, remembers thinking then what he would say at his father’s funeral.
On Monday evening, the 28-year-old said he found that nearly every word escaped him.
“I maintained for a long time that the guy who was my dad kind of vanished that day in September, but there were always pieces of him left,” Kelly Lynch said.
Born in Fort Wayne on Dec. 8, 1946, Dan Lynch was a near life-long resident of northeast Indiana. He studied at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and Indiana University in Bloomington.
His three-decades career included a stint at the Kansas City Times and finished at the Journal Gazette. A nationally syndicated cartoonist, Dan Lynch’s cartoons appeared in Time and Newsweek, as well as in hundreds of newspapers around the country.
“Dan had (what I thought was) a fabulous drawing style,” said Julie Inskeep, publisher and president of The Journal Gazette. “And, in the 20-plus years he worked at the JG, he provided a vast array of cartoon topics – always welcome, though not always in agreement with our editorial board. But he got people to think and react in his special and powerful way.”
Dan Lynch also wrote books, was a musician and had a passion for steam locomotives and railroads.
Kelly Lynch, a local filmmaker, said that nearly everything that he finds significant about his life now is a product of his life with his father.
“I knew exactly what I had with my dad before the stroke,” he said. “My DNA and my childhood were the product of his passions. I’ve had dreams in the last decade of what it would be like if he could talk again.”
The stroke caused aphasia, a language disorder, and Lynch struggled to put words into coherent sentences and he battled depression, Kelly Lynch said.
His son’s recent acquisition of a Goldendoodle puppy seemed to help his father connect with another being.
“Seeing him with the dog was the first time I’d seen him laugh continuously,” Kelly Lynch said.
He is also survived by a 25-year-old daughter Anna Lynch, who lives in Germany.
Dan Lynch served as the president of the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society. Kelly Lynch said he worked on the crew of the historic Nickel Plate 765 as it made a trip around a particularly well-known piece of track on a 2013 run. Knowing his father was sitting in the next car back, enjoying the ride and watching his son work meant all the world to him.
“That was pretty remarkable,” Kelly Lynch said. Janet Lynch said Dan was fearless, and a wonderful husband and father.
“A lot of people didn’t know he was a great writer,” she said. “He always had a unique wit, a dry take on political and social situations.”
A memorial service will be at 2 p.m. Friday Carnahan-Baidinger & Walter Funeral Home, 6992 Indiana 1 in Spencerville. Visitation with family will be held from noon until the service.
The family asks memorials be made in Dan Lynch’s name to the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society, Inc., P.O. Box 11017, Fort Wayne, 46855 or via www.fortwaynerailroad.org.