OpEd: Lindy Lynch was a leader with courage, vision and heart

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The heart and soul of Chamber events for the past decade was Lindy Lynch.

Every year I marveled at how she pulled it all together, galvanized the massive team of volunteers, and created Winterfests, Restaurant Weeks, Annual Membership Meetings, and, of course, Garlicfest!

We celebrated with Lindy Lynch her 10th(ish) year last year of Garlicfest as chair of Garlicfest. Lindy later corrected us with a wink and said it was probably more like 12 years. But that's just it, right? You start doing something you love, with the people you love, for the community you love and you tend to forget time. It becomes an absolute joy. If you watched Lindy, you can see this is was an absolute love of hers. Lindy with her lists, and SOPs, and maps, and her golf carts. And those glasses! She loved doing this! Going back through the numbers, under Lindy's leadership, Garlicfest has grown by 262 percent over the last 11 years! That's simply amazing and humbling.

They say it takes a community; well, I think it takes more. It takes a leader. It takes courage. It takes vision. It takes heart. It takes Lindy Lynch. A mentor and a friend to me since my days at Country Corner Daycare as a toddler, Lindy was the first to remind me (and others at meetings) if I was getting too ahead of myself, that "she changed my diapers!" Equally, she loved to tell the story of distracting me at daycare when my mom had to go off to work by "letting me look at the birdies." She wanted you to remember where you came from and who was actually in charge!

We had a special relationship. Starting from youth as I helped my dad at the Antique and Classic Carshow, to doing announcements as a volunteer at Garlicfest, to running our family business right next to Kevin's Restaurant and being a frequent customer, and then as the executive director of the Bennington Chamber.

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I think we liked each other because of our passion. We knew we were both working to make a Winterfest, an Annual Meeting, a board meeting, a chamber, a region and a Garlicfest better for everyone.

She would be one of the first people I would call to see how the community or a board member would react to an idea or how I should frame a situation. She knew the arc of Bennington's greatness always leaned towards a positive, vibrant future. She also knew you had to fight for it.

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In the final months, when we would visit weekly to go over Garlicfest plans, she would start off soft-spoken, weaker than I remember her, but it didn't take long for the tiger to come forth and she would get animated about this aspect of Garlicfest or needing more volunteers or whatever was the topic of the town that week. She had true passion for events, organizing them and the community that was impacted by them.

I so wish, Lindy, you could see one more Garlicfest. I can hear your great, big laugh and smile echoing into the night after a day of Garlicfest would wrap up. We'd sit and analyze the day — the wins, the challenges, the changes for tomorrow — you and me, perfectionists at heart. And yet, we also just loved to sit and enjoy the moment of a day of hard work too (over a couple of drinks, of course).

You had this twinkle and smirk that suggested you knew more than you were letting on. Your instinct (which you would continuously refer to as your "woman's instinct") was second to none! You knew what people wanted, you knew what the community needed.

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We will do everything in our power to make you proud of an organized, fun Garlicfest this year and beyond. We will continue your legacy of well-done community-based events, active and civic volunteerism and an ever-ferocious pursuit of excellence in all that we do. Lindy, thank you for the many years you've mentored the chamber staff and me. Thank you for the many, many years you've mentored scores of volunteers and put Bennington on the map!

You were one in a million, and I am so blessed to have met you and called you friend, chair, and teacher. Rest in peace and may God bless you.

Always stinkin' onward.

Matt Harrington is executive director of the Bennington Regional Chamber of Commerce.


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