Ed Lynch received a heartfelt gift from the community for his 91st birthday: The Vollum Award for Lifetime Philanthropic Achievement.
Lynch, a well-known Clark County philanthropist who has given to an array of causes over the years, was honored with the award Tuesday at the Hilton Portland Oregon. The award came the day after his birthday.
He and his wife, Dollie, who died of cancer at age 84 last fall, were the 15th recipients over 25 years of the award, sponsored by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Oregon & Southwest Washington Chapter.
Lynch was humbled by the honor.
“We’ve done what we’ve done because it’s the right thing to do,” Lynch said. “You can’t help be pleased to get an award of that type. And I am pleased. That’s not the part that counts. The part that counts is doing good things.”
Lynch, who retired in 1985 as president of Kiewit Pacific Co., met Virginialee “Dollie” Lynch when she was a student at the University
of California at Los Angeles, where she was in the same sorority as Ed’s sister. They were married 62 years.
Whether it was helping out in a church kitchen or bestowing one of their well-known donations, the Lynches epitomized giving, their benefactors said. Their causes include the Fort Vancouver National Trust, Identity Clark County, Columbia Springs Foundation, Construction Education Foundation for Oregon State University, Vancouver Methodist Foundation, Northwest House of Theological Studies, and PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center Foundation.
It was apparent at Tuesday’s luncheon just how many lives the Lynches had touched. Those in the audience of 1,000 people were asked to stand if they had come in support of Lynch.
“It was at least a fourth of the room who came to see Ed,” said Elson Strahan, president of the Fort Vancouver National Trust.
Strahan said the Lynches were honored because they devoted their lives to philanthropy, even when it was anonymous.
“It’s not just a few major contributions or one contribution, it really is individuals whose lives’ fabric is giving and serving others,” he said. “Sometimes that’s been public, but often it’s not been public.”
Rich Melching, president of Community Foundation for Southwest Washington, said the Lynches did more than write checks. Ed Lynch would often set out chairs at events, and Dollie Lynch used to help out frequently in the kitchen of First United Methodist Church.
“If Ed comes to an event and sees something needs to be done, he just does it,” Melching said.
Among their notable contributions, the Lynches gave $1 million to Southwest Washington Medical Center (now PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center) in 2006 during a $50 million capital funding drive. Last October, following Dollie’s death, a therapy garden at the hospital was named in her honor.
Jean Rahn, executive director of PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center Foundation, said she’s pleased Dollie’s memory will live on with the garden.
Of the Lynches, Rahn said: “They gave generously of their time and money. As a result of that, they encouraged other people to give. That may be their greatest gift.”