In Memoriam: Peter Lynagh, Professor
Michael Laric, Peter Lynagh’s fellow UB marketing professor, shared fond memories of his friend and colleague at Lynagh’s memorial service in October:
Peter passed away doing what he loved most—teaching. He loved the Marketing Communications course so much that even in the midst of his illness and sick leave, he could not pass up the opportunity to teach it online. Marketing Communications was normally taken by students in their junior year; it was so popular that we often needed two sections to accommodate the demand. Peter also taught the capstone Marketing Management course. Between the two courses, Dr. L, as he was affectionately known by his students, got to see most of his students in his office or at the many Marketing Club activities he led as adviser.
Dr. L’s office and the hallway leading to it were often filled with students who lined up to see him. There were course-related matters, but just as often they shared their personal issues and sought his caring suggestions. Peter always found time to listen whenever students needed him. He often stayed late into the evening to allow those working full time to meet with him. Peter was a perennial marshal in UB’s graduation ceremonies—calling the students to rise and get their diplomas and getting a chance to congratulate them.
Peter mentored them at school and outside. He often took students out for lunch or dinner. His end-of-semester outings with the Marketing Club board were a tradition that drew students into leadership roles in the club. The club was near and dear to him—he worked tirelessly to invite speakers to talk to the students. Many speakers were prior students who were role models, UB graduates who had done well professionally. He encouraged students to join and accompany him to [meetings of] the Baltimore chapter of the American Marketing Association.
Peter visited community colleges to help recruit students for UB. During these visits, he would share news about students and impress those present with [the] success stories of our alumni. Peter continued to advise the ones who enrolled and kept in touch with them after they graduated. Pete would invite alumni to lunch or dinner, often picking up the tab. He made many lifelong friends among the students, keeping in touch through birthday cards, by phone and e-mail, and on Facebook.
Peter was my co-author on numerous publications and conference presentations. We enjoyed working and writing together. His office was adjacent to mine, and every semester, we would compare teaching schedules to identify when we were both on campus so we could collaborate. Peter was a great editor, and we kept seeking “hot” topics to write about. In the ’90s, we wrote about Internet marketing; in the past few years, we combined that with a focus on sustainability. Peter’s doctoral dissertation dealt with logistics—a topic he continued to work on through[out] his career. He linked our research to transportation by using examples such as small-package delivery systems, seaports, airlines, etc.
Tying research to teaching was one of our most gratifying experiences. We had students help [with] the research, and on three occasions we published with them as co-authors. In 2010, Peter was able to secure travel funds for two co-authors so they could join us to present a paper at a conference in Frankfurt, Germany. After the paper was presented, Peter invited the students to dinner. They had explored the city the night before and suggested we explore a neighborhood that attracted young crowds. The restaurants, bars and pubs had long tables extending to the sidewalk. Strangers shared the tables, making friends, eating and drinking. As usual, Peter engaged the folks around in conversation. He stayed with the students till 4 a.m.—long after I had left them. He was up by 7 a.m., rented a car and took the two students for a ride to see the base where he had served as a soldier. The students got to see the countryside, and both continued to travel on their own in Europe.
Peter was a special friend; we spent over three decades as colleagues, and when we moved to adjacent offices, we became close friends. Peter loved his family most of all. He loved to talk about his trips to Philadelphia to see (his daughter) Nancy and those to Seattle to see (his son) Michael. With Nancy’s children, he would talk about high school friends and college plans; when they visited Baltimore, it was off to the ballpark to see the O’s. Michael’s children are younger, so Grandpa Peter would talk about shopping for games and the Wii game we researched before he took it to Seattle to play with the grandchildren. Whenever he met Michael in Seattle, Baltimore or Las Vegas, they would play golf. In the past three years, he talked a lot about the illnesses of [both] his sister in D.C. and his brother in Philadelphia [and about] their passing away.
I will remember Peter every time I pass his office door on the way to mine. [I will remember] seeing his name on my resume, working on the research we were going to complete and, most of all, those cheerful greetings when I walked in and the voice saying “Say hi to Roberta” on the way out. I take solace in knowing that Peter passed away doing the two things he loved the most—being with his family and teaching students.
Ven Sriram, Peter Lynagh’s close friend and another UB marketing professor, also spoke at Lynagh’s memorial:
Good morning. My name is Ven Sriram. I was very fortunate to have known Peter for 25 years; he was a colleague at UB, my golf partner and, most importantly, a dear and cherished friend.
When (his daughter) Nancy first asked me to speak today, I knew it would be difficult, but I didn’t realize it would be this hard. When I saw Nancy, Nicole (Nancy’s daughter) and Pat (Peter’s ex-wife) earlier in the week, they said not to worry; I would feel Pete’s hand on my shoulder to help steady me—and they were right. I feel his gentle presence in this church.
I know Peter would have wanted us to celebrate his life as a traditional Irish ceilidh—a gathering of people telling stories, making jokes and singing songs—and for us not to feel sad. I’m going to try, but I won’t promise I won’t be emotional—today makes his passing real. I can’t anymore kid myself that I’ll hear his voice and see once again that smile and unique twinkle in his bright blue eyes.
So Peter: Bear with me for these few moments. I can see you up there with a Diet Coke in one hand and your three-iron in the other—you loved your Diet Coke. For Michael Lynagh, Mike Cannon, Ed, J.C. and all the members of the St. Philip Neri golf league, you know that in Pete’s hands, a golf club was a lethal weapon. Those of us who played regularly with him hoped he wouldn’t notice while we moved back and stood well behind him when he teed off—the ball could go anywhere! I’ll never forget the time his partner Ed played the entire round in a hard hat!
Of course, if it was summer, he loved wearing his shorts and flaunting his pale, scrawny legs—what Nancy laughingly called the “alabaster toothpicks.” Peter found that as amusing as the rest of us. In fact, my wife, Angie, and I saw him the day he died, and he was still complaining that he had looked in the mirror and the alabaster was as pale as always. The great thing about playing golf with Pete is that I got to spend five hours riding around in a cart with him. All he talked about was his family and friends—never about himself. In fact, I think Pete lived his whole life for others. And although I’d never met many of you until today, from listening to Pete, I feel I know you.
He also talked about his friends at UB, and we were saying that no one was more loved and respected than Peter. And that’s hard to get—both love and respect—and it was mostly because of how much he put into the school. He was first to volunteer for everything and gave the school a heart and a soul.
Present today are many of his colleagues and, most importantly, his students. It was a love fest; Peter loved his students, and boy, did they love Dr. L, as they affectionately called him. I was not surprised to hear from so many of them in person, and [I] read the comments on his Facebook page—the heartfelt tributes and sadness. He was always there for them—the Marketing Club, the student awards events, the independent studies, the reference letters, the block party. ... His students all say he was an excellent marketing professor but [that] he also taught them important lessons about life. He was their trusted friend, a mentor, an adviser, someone they could count on for support and encouragement. Nancy tells me that even toward the end, on his last day as he lay in the hospital, he was worried about the students in his class. That was typical of the man.
Nobody loved golf more than Peter. Like most of us, he sometimes did not always hit the ball straight on the course. But in the game of life, he hit the ball 300 yards down the middle to a hole-in-one. And he will indeed remain No. 1 in my book.
Peter, those of us here and not here, who were fortunate enough to be in your presence whether for one semester or, in my fortunate case, for 25 years, your gentle and loving spirit, your kindness, your friendship will live in our hearts forever.
And for all the times you never let me pay for dinner or a round of golf, for your generosity with your spirit, if I am lucky enough to make it to heaven, where we know you are today, the Diet Cokes are on me.