Community remembers Bennington's 'No. 1 fan'

Friends, colleagues recall Lindy Lynch's contributions to her town

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Friends and community members are remembering a tireless warrior, master organizer and beloved friend in community organizer Lindy Lynch, who died Saturday at her home in North Bennington after a five-year battle with cancer.

"Lindy handled the cancer with strength and grace," said Brenda Jones, who worked with Lynch in a variety of volunteer roles for over 20 years. "And she was just the most determined woman that I have ever met."

Those who knew Lynch remembered her for her seemingly countless community contributions, stemming from a boundless love of Bennington. She was particularly known for her organization of Bennington's popular Garlic and Herb Festival, known as Garlic Fest.

Jones called Lynch "Bennington's number-one champion," who worked extensively on various efforts, including her ongoing service at the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce, along with time on numerous boards and tireless planning for Bennington events.

Friends and community members have been offering support and sharing remembrances on social media for Lynch, a woman described as Bennington's greatest fan.

"With heavy hearts, the Better Bennington Corporation and all of Downtown send our thoughts and prayers to the family of Lindy Lynch," says a post on the Better Bennington Corporation's Facebook page, posted the day of Lynch's death. "We may have lost Bennington's No. 1 fan today, but Lindy's spirit, drive, and determination will impact all our lives forever. Thank you Lindy for your endless love of our community and for demanding 110 percent from all of us at all times."

Bennington Town Manager Stuart Hurd described Lynch as "all energy, all the time."

"She was tireless," he said. "Whatever she got involved in she was heavily involved."

Lynch, who was from Bennington, spent seven years as an army nurse, after which she returned to Vermont, where she founded County Corner Day Care, Generations Child Care Center and The Apple Core Toy and Teacher supply store. She and her husband of 17 years, Kevin Lynch, also founded Kevin's Sports Pub in North Bennington.

Multiple former friends and colleagues described Lynch's enduring commitment to Garlic Fest, which is set for Aug. 31-Sept. 1.

"She absolutely loved Garlic Fest," Jones said. "She just wanted people to have people come to Bennington, and wanted to have people have a great experience. She loved Bennington, and she wanted everyone else to have that same feeling, and that same experience."

Lynch organized an amazing group of people to lead Garlic Fest, breaking the event down into various categories and assigning people to each category, Jones said.

"She was very, very focused on making Bennington the best place it could be," Jones said. "And she always put her personal feelings in the background."

That selflessness even applied in the case of Lynch's own pain.

In 2010, Lynch fell down a trapdoor at Garlic Fest and badly broke her shoulder.

"All she cared about was Garlic Fest, and making sure it was a great event," Jones said, recalling Lynch's concern for the event, not herself, even on the ride to the hospital. "Even though she was crying with pain. In her time of pain, she was just focused on the event."

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Matt Harrington, executive director of the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce, said Lynch "was events at the Chamber."'

"If the chamber logo was on anything, Lindy was probably somewhere involved in it, if not leading it," he said. Besides Garlic Fest, she was also heavily involved in planning for Winterfest in January and had also been planning another restaurant week for November, he said.

"I think it's what kept her going," he said of her organizing efforts. "She was just one of those personalities that needed things to do and communities to help. That's probably what brought her through the last couple of months."

Just last week, he said, he and other Garlic Fest organizers were at Lynch's home, planning for the event.

"We got some really great intimate times with her," he said.

Harrington, who's known Lynch since he was about 3 years old at her former daycare business, Country Corner Day Care, described Lynch's death as a shock.

Next year is Garlic Fest's 25th anniversary — and they thought she would "of course" be there, he said.

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"You never think of Lindy not being there," he said. "And you never think of the cancer winning."

Lynch was such a fighter, Harrington said, she even collaborated with local author Kathy Wagenknecht to tell her story in a book called "Speed Bumps: Lindy Lynch's Journey into Cancer." The book debuted on Amazon last November.

"I read her obituary today, and I was like, either she wrote this, or she's up in heaven pointing out all the things — don't forget to have this, don't forget to have that,'" Harrington said.

He said he thought no one's ever really put together a full list of things Lynch has been involved in.

"[She's] a once in a lifetime, one-in-a-million kind of person," he said. "We've lost a great champion."

Lisa Byer, Lynch's longtime friend, also described her as a master organizer and coordinator — and a force.

"She worked herself to the bone," she said of Lynch. "But there was always time for laughter and friendship."

Byer, executive director of Catamount Access Television, said her life in Bennington wouldn't be what it is without Lynch.

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"She made me love this town, want to be a part of it," she said. "She created a very strong group of friends that I'm very grateful that I have, and I wouldn't have them if I didn't have her. She just has such a huge reach that I don't know how to capture it."

Those who remembered Lynch said her legacy would reflect her selfless service to the community.

"And I don't know that we'll ever see someone that is more committed to that," Byer said of Lynch's volunteer efforts.

Lynch also "always did the right thing," and never let cancer get her down, she said.

"She wasn't going to let it stop her," Byer said. "Her spirit was very, very strong, and I think that we'll be feeling it for a long time. She deserves the praise she's getting, and I hope that she's seeing how much people loved and appreciated her."

"As much as she [did] in business, she was a friend to everyone," Jones said. "And she was such a great friend. She just made herself available to help anyone. And you always felt so special."

When she thinks about Lynch, Jones said, she remembers her care and concern for everyone.

"And she encouraged me that anyone who has cancer, and they're nearing the end, that the best thing you can do is to give them support, and be there for them," Jones said. "They just want to hear from their friends."

John Shannahan, executive director of the Better Bennington Corporation, knew Lynch for about 35 years.

"She expected everything from everybody, because she gave it all," he said. "And she made all of us step up to the plate and do the right thing. She taught our community to rally, step up and make this town a much better place."

Donald Campbell, chairman of the Bennington Select Board, knew Lynch primarily through her efforts as a volunteer.

"A lot of things that we love about this community are because of volunteers," he said. "When there are people like Lindy, who are willing to lead the pack and just get stuff done, it's what makes the community work. Lindy got stuff done."

Lynch characterizes the best of Bennington, and she helped bring a lot of special events in town from ideas to reality, he said.

"She was larger than life," he said. "Nobody really gets to cheat death, but she felt like she would give it a good run for its money."

Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at pleboeuf@benningtonbanner.com, at @BAN_pleboeuf on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 118.


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