JAME J. LYNN was a very fine gentleman, indeed---considerate, friendly, modest in demeanor. He was the sort of man held in affectionate memory and respect by his caddies of the 20s, now, of course, mature men, some quite successful..... Quite a book could be written about the Kansas Citians of today as seen by their caddies of other years.
Jimmy Lynn was one of the richer men in Kansas City. Of that there will be official appraisement. The fortune made through insurance underwriting was multiplied by lucky turns in the oil fields of Texas. He was easily the largest stockholder in the Union National bank.
He didn't appear to be a millionaire, but mentally he was lightning quick in perception and magic with figures. Mathematic-wise, Lynn's IQ would have rung the bell for genius. We all know men who are marvels with figures, but no great shucks in business decisions. Lynn was also a man of sound business judgment. And he was extremely lucky.
One needs a lucky touch to make millions in Texas oil from a Kansas City base. The Danciger boys quit whisky jobbing in favor of oil perhaps forty years ago, but they went down in the oil country and were very much Texans when they cashed in for 42 million dollars four years ago. And now Jack Danciger pays $100,000 for a third interest In Prince 105 SAF, a 3-year-old Aberdeen Angus bull. But, generally, it can be said that while men with oil money occasionally move to Kansas City, the record of local venturing in oil has been more minus than plus.
Before he was 30, Jimmy Lynn headed the Epperson Insurance underwriting concerns. It was not luck but the Lynn personality and capabilities that attracted the attention of U. S. Epperson.
Lynn himself said his success story was not one that could be duplicated today. Timing was a factor. Ahead of present-day tax laws he was able to buy a large, highly profitable business and pay for it out of profits. But the deal called for a sizable equity down payment. A friend advanced the amount in cash.
The friend at the needful moment was the late E. F. Swinney of the First National bank. The borrowing could not qualify is a bank loan. Swinney, watchful of a dollar though he was, advanced the money out of his own pocket. He, too, was paid back out of earnings from the expanding business.
Probably no single incident in his career afforded Ed Swinney the satisfaction he got from his brief backing of Jimmy Lynn. Swinney, who held solvency to be a major virtue, often recounted that all payments came ahead of schedule. He once remarked to this reporter that Lynn, the young man he had lent helpful dollars, had passed him in wealth by two or three times. That was quite a few years ago, too. Swinney, incidentally, left an estate of 3 million dollars.
Jimmy Lynn was an odd combination of the competent businessman and the philosopher who stressed closeness to universal forces. He felt he improved the quality of business letters by removing his shoes, inhibitors of foot respiration. The staff respected the keen mental alertness of the barefoot boss.
Lynn assembled a large estate between sixty-third street and Meyer boulevard, west of Prospect avenue. Here he developed in the 20's a private 9-hole golf course. And there in the first hours of the young sun he brought himself close to nature.
Clad only in loin cloth, the astute businessman rolled through exercises on the dewy lawn, or lay prone for long periods to draw within himself forces from the good earth. These first hours of the day were important to Lynn, so he habitually had late hours for his office. Once at the office his quick perceptions soon had him abreast of the day.
This daybreak rendezvous with the rising sun was something Lynn was quite ready to discuss. Of course, he was happy for the ample privacy that attended the calisthenics.
He could romp like a boy. Or he would stand on his head, safe by wooded grounds from observation.
All of these practices for the nurture of body and soul were well before the publication of "Autobiography of a Yogi" in 1946 by Paramhansa Yogananda. The church which Yogananda founded, the Self Realization Fellowship, became a top interest with Lynn. On Yogananda's death in 1952 Lynn himself became president of the group as Rajasi Janakananda, a name said to mean "soul realization through wisdom."
Lynn had become important to the self-realization movement centered in Los Angeles. Last spring he made a gift of more than a million dollars to the movement, signing over to the organization 22,000 shares of common stock in the Kansas City Southern railway. His will, filed for probate last week, makes provision of a second gift of approximately the same amount, to become available after Mrs. Lynn's death.
Banker Swinney delighted in the short golf course. In fact when the aging banker had to forego golf, the course was abandoned. Lynn sensed the pleasure his older friends took in their relatively low scores. In most standard golf courses every change introduces fresh hazards, but in the Lynn course every change eased existing difficulties.
It had been Mr. Swinney's ambition to shoot a 75 on his seventy-fifth birthday, the occasion of a noteworthy party on the Lynn estate in 1932. He did come in with a 76, quite happy and willing to overlook some concessions.
Jimmy Lynn and his brother, Eugene M. Lynn, were among the better amateur golfers in the 20s. Eugene Lynn, in fact, was president of the Kansas City Golf association when on July 10, 1930 he and four other Kansas Citians met death in a plane crash at Aransas Pass, Tex., a tragic end to a fishing outing on Mustang Island. The son, now heading the Lynn insurance underwriting was a lad of 11 that sad afternoon, striving to comfort his bereaved mother.
Mrs. James Lynn was herself a good golfer in the days of the private course. Her husband held the course record.
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