Aerial view of campus with Williamsport, the Susquehanna River and Bald Eagle Mountain as a backdrop

Lycoming College mourns loss of leading philanthropist and inspiring alumnus

Lycoming College mourns loss of leading philanthropist and inspiring alumnus

Peter Lynn

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Lycoming College chair emeritus of the board of trustees and leading philanthropist who inspired generations of alumni, Dr. Peter R. Lynn ’69 ’15H, passed away on Thursday, June 1, at the age of 83. He will be remembered by all who knew him as a down-to-earth, kind, and generous person.

Lynn was born in Williamsport on May 9, 1940, to Pendred Lego Cupp and Seth McCormick Lynn. After graduating from Williamsport High School in 1958, he served in the U.S. Army. Lynn then went on to attend Lycoming College, the alma mater of both his father and uncle (when it was Dickinson Seminary), and later, his granddaughter. He graduated cum laude in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in economics and was later awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree in 2015.

Lynn began his career working for the U.S. General Accounting Office (now known as the Government Accountability Office) in Washington, D.C. He was later assigned to Capitol Hill, where he assisted Sens. Eagleton and Stevens as a pension specialist, drafting legislation for what is now the Federal Employees Retirement System. In 1986, Lynn left federal employment to form his own company, Government Retirement & Benefits, Inc., where he helped thousands of federal employees with their retirement benefits and developed software systems now in use by virtually every federal agency.

During his 2011-2015 term as board chair, Lynn shepherded the College through a presidential transition and oversaw a review of the general education requirements, the development of an ambitious strategic plan, and significant new capital projects, including Lynn Science Center, the renovation of Rich, Crever, and Wesley Halls, and the enhancement of Penny’s Plaza and Café 1812. Lynn joined the board in 2002, filling various roles before his term as chair, including vice chair and chair of buildings and grounds.

Guided by a firm belief that every child should have the opportunity to further their education, Lynn’s prodigious philanthropic efforts touched countless numbers of people through the years. In addition to making a leadership gift toward the construction of both Lynn Science Center and Trachte Music Center, Lynn and his wife Joyce named the Joyce Lynn Commons and Penny’s Plaza, endowed the biochemistry program as well as several scholarships, and contributed to the James and Emily Douthat Distinguished Lectureship, the Girardi Legacy and Field Turf Project, and the Trustee Retention and Debt Reduction Fund. Additionally, the Lynns hosted many alumni events for the College to help create connections for hundreds of alumni back to their alma mater.

Despite having moved away from the Williamsport area, Lynn remained committed to his roots and to the region, and many have benefited from his and Joyce’s generosity, including UPMC Hillman Cancer Center.

“Perhaps the simplest way to provide support is to be a ‘marketing representative’ for the College by spreading the word that it’s one of the finest small, liberal arts colleges in the country, and don’t keep its light hidden under a basket,” said Lynn in 2012 of his support for Lycoming.

More recently, Lynn resided in Naples, Fla., and Laporte, Pa., where he loved to pilot planes, horseback ride, play golf, and fly fish. He was a member of Eagles Mere Country Club and Vineyards Country Club in Naples, Fla., and was very proud of his three holes-in-one. His greatest love was being with his wife and their sons and wives, and most of all, his grandchildren, who affectionately called him “papa.”

Lynn is survived by his wife, Joyce, two wonderful sons, Peter and Michael, grandchildren and other family members.

A memorial service was held Tuesday, June 13, at Clarke Chapel on the Lycoming College Campus to celebrate his love of family and his tireless efforts to support the College and the community. As his son Michael shared, his father took the road less traveled and encouraged his family and loved ones to do the same. “This is how Peter lived his incredible full life,” [by] “putting people at ease and treating them as equals” with his quick wit, sense of humor, and unassuming demeanor.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Peter R. and Joyce B. Lynn Endowed Scholarship, c/o The Advancement Office at Lycoming College, One College Place, Williamsport, PA 17701 or to Susquehanna Health Foundation, 1001 Grampian Blvd., Williamsport, PA 17701.

  • Joyce and Peter Lynn

    Joyce and Peter Lynn

  • (l-r) Barb Buedel, Joyce Lynn, Stan Sloter, Peter Lynn, Kent Trachte, Phil Sprunger

    (l-r) Barb Buedel, Joyce Lynn, Stan Sloter, Peter Lynn, Kent Trachte, Phil Sprunger