The Standard of a Great Life
Witnessing true greatness is a rare privilege.
Over the course of the 11 years that I worked as a colleague of the late Jack Lyne, I had many opportunities to witness his greatness.
There is a reason why he was inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame. Jack was the best at what he did.
His work as a journalist chronicling events in corporate real estate and economic development was unmatched. A lot of writers are good at observing details and reporting them. Many are skilled at interviewing their subjects and then turning that exchange into a meaningful article.
Jack exceeded them all by capturing the true essence of the story. It was never enough for Jack to simply reveal the facts. He sought to tell a compelling story by taking the reader inside the subject and immersing the reader in the many human emotions of it.
Within the same piece, Jack could make you laugh, cry, ponder and be filled with amazement. Sometimes, when reading his work, I would shift multiple times between these emotions, always to be brought back to my sheer awe of his ability.
The topic didn’t matter. He could be writing about a grandiose space elevator, an ill-fated biosphere, a corporate headquarters relocation or the passing of a legendary figure — as he did so eloquently and so movingly in July when he wrote Site Selection’s cover story on the life of Mac Conway — and he would take the reader to places totally unexpected.
Jack excelled at his craft because he possessed two qualities that are often found in short supply in contemporary journalism — profound humility and a resounding sense of his own humanity.
Jack never took himself too seriously, even though he was always a serious thinker. In an era when many journalists seek to make a name for themselves by ruining the reputations of others, Jack sought to elevate the human condition.
At a time when many news people relish skewering the actions and decisions of the folks they cover, Jack portrayed his subjects as three-dimensional characters whose lives mattered even when their conduct failed.
Jack could do this because he was more connected to his human soul than anyone I have ever known. He didn’t need to make fun of people because his ego didn’t need the boost. He could be genuinely kind to others because he instinctively knew how good it felt to be appreciated.
In all the years I knew Jack, I never once heard him utter an unkind word toward me or anyone else.
Jack smiled more, laughed more and enjoyed life more than anyone I have ever known. Even when the smile wasn’t visible on his mouth, you could see it in his eyes.
He cared so much about his craft and the people he worked with that he regularly dispensed encouragement. He saw it as the joy that would fuel the good work and goodwill of others.
He cared so much about his family that he always stayed connected to the people he cherished — his wife Laura and the entire Conway family, the family that raised him back home in Russellville, Ky., his adopted family of Conway Data, and his beloved Kentucky Wildcats.
His innate goodness and decency touched all who knew him and permeated every aspect of his work, whether he was writing an article for the SiteNet Dispatch or providing strategic direction to Conway Data’s association management endeavors.
When Jack spoke, people listened. When he wrote, the world was enlightened. And when he died, everyone who knew him experienced a sense of loss that cannot be put into words.
For more than 40 of his 67 years, Jack made his mark as a master storyteller. Now that this supremely gifted communicator has been taken from us much too soon, we are left with the indelible memory of his incredible life.
Thanks, Jack, for giving us all you had — the gift of a life dedicated to making the world and everyone around you better.
Thank you for letting us witness true greatness.
-- Ron Starner
Memories of Jack Lyne
Jack and I grew up best friends. We loved music and made up parodies of popular songs together and sang them, sometimes unable to finish the songs we were laughing so hard.
Once we rode his pony together, him with the reins and me hanging onto him. The ride was short. The pony stumbled and fell, taking the three of us to the ground. I remember Jack crying — a stirrup had hit him in the face on the way down.
He was at my sixth birthday party, along with five other friends.
We competed academically and for leadership positions throughout our K-12 days. We were in the Junior and Senior plays.
We were teammates on the basketball team that Dr. Roy Reynolds, our principal, told me a few months ago, "probably had the highest IQ of any team in KY." He was talking academic IQ. Unfortunately, our athletic IQ was not so high! But we loved the game and Jack became a very good player.
Jack lived across the street from our high school.He was ALWAYS late for school! In the winter I remember he wore a long trench coat. There was always a bottle of Listerine in the inside pocket. Jack was always "doctoring" for something.
In the dressing room prior to a basketball game our senior year I saw Jack take a drink of Listerine. I asked why he was drinking it instead of gargling it. "I figure if it kills germs in my mouth it will kill germs all the way down if I drink it." I considered his logic for a moment and took a swig myself — it made sense to me! I don't know how well either of us played that night but I feel sure no germs invaded us.
At UK Jack and I pledged the same fraternity but seemed to go separate ways with different friends. Once we graduated, I lost track of him, hearing only sporadically about him.
A couple of years ago I learned that he was coming to Lexington to be inducted into UK's Journalism school Hall of Fame. I informed him that I'd be there. When he wrote back and gave me the date, it was one day later than what the ticket indicated. He said later that if I hadn't mentioned it, he would have been a day late for his award!! That was Jack.
I last saw Jack and his wife Laura again August 17, 2011, at Marilyn Griffin's gathering of some of our class to plan our 50th anniversary in 2012. He was limping and in pain but he was the same witty, self-effacing person I had grown up with. He reminded me of what could have been Jack's middle name on the basketball court —Jack "My Fault" Lyne. Whenever he made a bad pass or committed a turnover, you could always hear Jack yell, "My fault!" whether it was his fault or not. That was Jack.
So sorry and shocked to hear about Jack. Over the years I was so impressed with his work as a journalist, his gentility (now understood as I read of his Kentucky roots) and his adaptability in moving from print to digital media — all of which he did so well.
I only knew Jack casually, meeting him in person maybe only a dozen or so times at conferences, but I will always remember his professionalism and charm. He was one of those individuals who, although you only see them occasionally, stand out in your ever-more crowded memory.
Gene DePrez, Partner, Global Innovation Partners
One Saturday in August 1997, I had my first-born, Matthew, in a stroller (he was 11 months old) out for a walk on the grounds of the high-rise complex we lived in across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan. I sat on a bench, turned the stroller so Matt (now 15) could face me, and said to him, "A guy named Jack in Atlanta wants me to work for him down there. What do you think?" He seemed fine with the idea, especially if it meant he could get out and run for a while. I took that (and my wife's support) as a "Yes," and we made the move over Thanksgiving that year.
Matt had the opportunity to meet Jack just a few months ago, at a memorial for Jack's father-in-law, and Laura's Dad, Mac. Matt and Jack shared a love of basketball, and I wanted Matt to meet Jack, who was genuine in his pleasure to meet my son and in his interest in Matt's love of the game. "Oh, here's the three-pointer guy," Jack laughed, as I introduced them, making Matt feel welcome and honored in one short second.
Jack had a bottomless reservoir of genuineness and warmth that he drew on whenever I saw him with others or when I was in his presence. His gifts to me and my colleagues on the editorial staff at Site Selection include priceless friendship, a writing standard that always seems out of reach, an editorial sensibility that is my gold standard as editor — and can only hope I am in the vicinity of — and a deep, smart and robust sense of humor.
On a personal level, I will miss Jack's camaraderie and confidence. On more than one occasion, he talked me off the proverbial ledge, like when someone tried to use the magazine years ago to discredit someone or something — I forget the details — by discrediting the publication. I fumed, lost sleep, wrote an angry response and shared it with Jack before sending it. He read it carefully, nodded, agreed with my sentiments and handed it back to me with a smile. "Glad you wrote this," he said. "Now it's out of your system — don't worry about it." I didn't after that.
We miss Jack enormously.
Mark Arend, Editor in Chief, Site Selection
Al Smith called me yesterday morning to tell me the sad news. We're both shaken by it, since we had been hoping to see Jack and Laura in the near future, and maybe even work on a project with Jack sometime. We had been in touch about reviving the blue-tail fly, the underground paper we helped to start in 1969, or some digital version of it, or some limited edition books by some of the original fly staffers.
Jack was something else — smart, handsome and very talented. He was the best writer of a group of us that went on to work for major newspapers, national magazines, news services and public broadcasting. He was a prose stylist who was greatly influenced by the emergence of the New Journalism of Tom Wolfe, Hunter Thompson, Ed McClanahan and others. He told it like it was, with a flourish.
I'm sorry that I missed him and Laura last year when they were in Lexington, and I regret that we won't be able to get together and concoct some incendiary schemes, or, least stir things up a bit.
Jack was one of the Good Guys. God bless.
Guy Mendes, Lexington, Ky.
All I've got to say is Jack was one hell of a man and will be missed by all his many friends and classmates. I was so looking forward to our 50th year reunion. He was our class president and one hell of a fine guy.
Larry Johnson, via LinkedIn
My family and I were fortunate enough to know Jack's gentle and generous spirit, demonstrated daily to his colleagues, to his family and to the animals in his care. His eyebrows were more often raised than furrowed, which allowed the eyes under them to sparkle with his innate openness and intelligence, usually in the company of a wry smile and baritone chuckle.
Mostly I knew Jack as a writer, a quality journalist who knew how to follow the route of his own curiosity to tell a story. Even as he may have been shaking his head at the ways of the world he was documenting, he likewise never stopped shaking his head at the wonders of this same world.
I was not alone in sharing with Jack a fondness for great music, literature and art. We also liked working while others slept: I tend toward the pre-dawn hours, while Jack could always burn the midnight oil. We pretty much had the 24-hour cycle covered.
I enjoyed our long-distance editorial collaborations between Atlanta and Micanopy, Fla. And I always knew he was an ally when it came to the value of real, enterprise business journalism in a world increasingly full of prefab stories.
Jack was one of an increasingly rare breed known as the man of letters. Emails were crafted as if they were correspondence written in ink, complete with carefully constructed sentences and fully realized thoughts. He had just written me such a heartfelt note, and it meant the world coming from him. So that world is a bit dimmer today.
The last time we visited in Florida, during the sacred ritual of a University of Kentucky Final Four men's basketball game last spring, Jack allowed me to page through some of the work he published in the blue-tail fly, an underground newspaper he and some fellow Lexington writers launched back in the '60s, when he was part of the nascent Kentucky "mafia" of literati and artists that included Ed McClanahan, Guy Mendes and others. That spirit of playful but revolutionary thought never left him.
Open eyes. Open mind. Open heart.
Adam Bruns, managing editor, Site Selection
Jack's heart and soul were enormous.
I can't remember ever having a single unpleasant or negative moment with Jack.
Richard Kadzis, Vice President, Strategic Communications, CoreNet Global
Read Richard's tribute to Jack.
What a feeling of loss - though I hadn't seen him in several years, I always thought that before long we'd share a couple of bourbons (or even an entire bottle).
Helluva great guy, a bountiful raconteur and excellent journalist.
My future is less bright knowing that we won't get together again.
Brian French, Principal Advisor, Realciprocity Advisors, Inc., Toronto
I was shocked and saddened to hear of Jack's death. We had close contact in my early days with Site Selection, and my recollections of him are only pleasant. He struck me as a thorough professional when it came to his craft, yet most importantly, an enjoyable and decent person - would that there were more like him.
Jurgen Lindhorst, Ontario
Joe Russo, via LinkedIn
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