Monday, February 21, 1955




Since 1952 the Underwriting and
Oil Executive Had Spent Most
of His Time in California
--Began Career Here.

James J. Lynn, president of the U. S. Epperson Underwriting company and the Lynn Underwriting company, died early yesterday at the farm home at Borrego Springs, Calif.

The Kansas City insurance and oil executive, who was 62, succumbed to pneumonia which developed while he still was in a weakened - condition from a brain operation he underwent last October at the Good Samaritan hospital, Los Angeles.

Much Time In California.

It was the third such operation he had undergone in recent years at the Los Angeles hospital. The first was in August, 1952, and the second was last April. Mr. Lynn had spent virtually all his time in California since the first operation, and had been in Kansas City only twice since then. Both visits here were brief.

He began a fabulous career here in 1909 as clerk and accountant for the Missouri Pacific railroad and in a few years had become a capitalist expanding interests in insurance, oil, citrus farms, banking, and another railroad, the Kansas City Southern.

His estate, between Sixty-third street and Meyer boulevard, the Paseo and Prospect avenue, is familiar to Kansas Citians as an area covered in part with a forest of hardwood trees an in part by orchards and vineyards. The Lynn home is at 6440 Brooklyn avenue.

Mr. Lynn became interested several years ago in a religious order centered in Los Angeles and based on Yoga principles. He became president of the group, which is known as the Self-Realization Fellowship, and last May gave it more than 1 million dollars in stock of the Kansas City Southern railway. The gift was of 22,000 shares of common stock.

Leader of the Group.

It was said that Mr. Lynn had hoped to remain anonymous in making the gift. The disclosure concerning the stock also brought to general attention the fact that under the name of Rajasi Janakananda, he had been serving for two years as the leader of Self-Realization Fellowship.

The Fellowship has its headquarters in an ornate temple atop Mt. Washington, in Los Angeles. The name of the organization as been interpreted to mean "soul realization through wisdom." Mr. Lynn was said to have become interested in the organization through the reading of the "'Autobiography of A Yogi," published in 1946 by Paramhansa Yogananda who had founded the Self-Realization group in 1920. Yogananda, born in India, died in 1952, and was succeeded by Mr. Lynn.

It is reported that the Fellowship has about half a million followers on four continents. Yogananda was described as an "illumined Yogi." Yogi principles are based on a mental discipline in which attention is directed exclusively on some object, such as the deity, with a view toward identification of the consciousness with the object.

Directed Companies Here.

Until he entered the Los Angeles hospital for the first operation Mr. Lynn had spent most of his time in Kansas City and had been active in the direction of the U. S. Epperson and Lynn Underwriting companies. Offices are in the R. A. Long building and the Union National bank building.

A large stockholder in the Union National bank, he was a member of its board of directors. He was a director of the Kansas City Southern, also.

Insurance remained the largest of his varied interests. He has owned the U. S. Epperson company since 1921. He started a citrus fruits operation in 1927 in the Rio Grande valley of Texas, increasing the size of his fruit ranch from twenty acres to 500 acres.

In 1938 Mr. Lynn began building an oil empire in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Illinois. Headquarters for the oil company are at Abilene, Tex., but a business associate said last night that Mr. Lynn spent comparatively little time there, leaving the oil production in the hands of a manager. The business associate said it was likely that in recent years Mr. Lynn's oil operations had perhaps exceeded the insurance businesses in actual dollar volume.

Mr. Lynn was a member of the Kansas City park board from September 1944 to November 1947. In 1950 he gave 15.38 acres as an addition to Swope park. The land adjoined the eastern and southern boundaries of the park.

To Work for Railway.

Mr. Lynn was born in 1892 on a cotton farm near Archibald, La. As a boy he displayed an aptitude for mathematics which marked him as a genius. He was 17 when he moved to Kansas City to work for the Missouri Pacific. In less than a month he had become an auditor for the railroad.

By the time he was 21 he had completed a law course and been admitted to the bar, and had completed accounting studies and been made an assistant in the firm of Smith & Brodie, certified public accountants.

He handled some accounting work for U. S. Epperson Underwriting company and attracted the attention of the founder and owner, U. S. Epperson. Mr. Lynn became general manager of the company in 1917 and purchased the business four years later. It is said that he borrowed several hundred thousands of dollars to make the purchase. The loan was from the First National bank, personally guaranteed by the late E. F. Swinney, who was then president of the institution.

The Lynn estate here, originally 100 acres, reflected its owner's love of the out-of-doors. He was a strong believer in physical exercise as a means of maintaining health, and he spent much time in walking about the grounds and in carrying out an outdoor program of physical conditioning. The estate formerly included a 9-hole golf course.

For a Hospital Site.

The property was reduced to a about sixty acres in recent ears through the sale of a building site for a new Research hospital, near Prospect avenue, and the sale of a site on the Paseo side to the Church of the Nazarene.

Mr. Lynn was married in 1913 to Miss Freda Josephine Prill of a Kansas City. The wife, now a virtual invalid continues to occupy the home at 6440 Brooklyn. A business associate said the wife was the only immediate survivor.

A nephew, E. M. Lynn, jr., is vice-president of the U. S. Epperson company and lives at 6210 Ensley lane.

Tentative plans are to hold funeral services at the Self-Realization Fellowship temple in Angeles and later in Kansas City.

News Articles on J.J. Lynn in K.C.

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