Remembering an Unforgettable Teacher

He was one of those teachers students never forget, who made innumerable impressions in the lives of others. Arthur Lynip, emeritus distinguished professor of English, died Jan. 16, 2011, in North Carolina at the age of 97. An outstanding scholar, dedicated teacher and committed Christian, he taught at Westmont from 1967-1977.

Lynip’s teaching and personal style deeply endeared him to students, recalls John Sider, emeritus distinguished professor of English. “Faculty and students alike valued his wisdom and admired his trenchant wit,” Sider says. “His influence at Westmont was truly remarkable in proportion to the single decade of his stay.”

Paul Delaney, who joined the English faculty in 1972, says of Lynip, “He loved the Lord, he loved literature, and he loved students. And he delighted in deepening students’ relationship with literature and with the Lord. Arthur Lynip left us a legacy to cherish, to celebrate, and to strive to emulate. All who remember him will miss him mightily.”

Carol Curlette Sie ’74 thought so highly of Lynip that she took her children to see him in 2003. “I did a lot of thinking about the people who helped me while I was a student,” she says. “I decided I wanted my kids to meet him and to let him know how special he is to me.” The entire Sie family traveled to North Carolina, where he moved to be closer to his son.

Carol appreciated Lynip because he always tried to connect with students. He asked his favorite question, “What are you thinking?” with probing eyes and did whatever was necessary to get a response. “His tactics included changing character and boyishly balancing an object on the tip of his finger, tapping your foot with his to get your attention or bringing an element of humor to the discussion,” she recalls. “He believed you had a view worth hearing.”

Lynip and his wife were gracious hosts, and a meal at their home was festive. Food was secondary to the company and the conversation. “The eternal dimension always emerged from the common place in his perspective,” Carol says. “As a friend and teacher, he helped me to grow up.”

Lynip graduated from Houghton College in New York and earned a master’s degree in sociology and English and a doctorate in language development from New York University. He taught English literature at Bryan College in Tennessee for three years and at two New York high schools for three years before serving as a high school principal for five years. In 1950 he returned to Houghton as professor of English and academic dean, a position he held until 1966.

At Westmont Lynip served one year as interim dean of faculty (1970-71) and chaired the English and modern languages department for several years. In 1972 he pioneered the college’s England Semester. During the 1974 trip, Lynip and his students learned by chance that they could purchase a wardrobe C.S. Lewis owned that closely matches the one described in his famous children’s book “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.” They brought the celebrated wardrobe to campus in 1975, and it remained in the English department until 2008, when it became part of a five-year touring exhibit related to the Narnia films. The wardrobe will return to Westmont in 2013.

Lynip, the teacher of the year in 1970, was the first Westmont faculty member to be named distinguished professor, an honor since held by only a handful of professors. Houghton College awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1975.

“Dr. Lynip made 20th century poetry come alive for me as a college sophomore,” says Denise Jackson ’78. “His wit and thought-provoking questions stand out in my mind. In death he’s an excellent example of a life well lived.”

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