Kathleen Cara Lynott

Honored by:Lynn Sandeman, Ellen Holm, Mary Andreson, San Wong, & Kathleen Timmons
Brick location:A:20  map

Kathleen Cara Lynott March 28, 1967-August 10, 1996

Kind, gentle, compassionate, earnest... Intelligent, articulate, passionate, committed.. Musician, dancer, writer, humanitarian, feminist, political activist, friend, sister, daughter...

These adjectives and labels woven together begin to create an image of a young woman who lived with passion and enthusiasm and who led others to search for truth and to seek for solutions to injustices in our society and in the world. Kathleen Cara Lynott was born on March 28, 1967, at Boone County Hospital Boone, Iowa.

The eldest of three daughters born to Patrick F. Lynott Jr. and Carolyn Crandall Lynott Kathleen quickly developed an ability to articulate her thoughts; by 18 months she carried on a full conversation with adults with ease. Precocious child that she became she also believed in fairies and elves the magic of childhood fantasies and the goodness in all people. But like the message in "Puff the Magic Dragon," childhood fantasies were replaced with adult realities as Kathleen matured and saw the suffering of others in the world. Yet she never lost her childlike trust in others; she always believed that people are basically good and she gave love to all who knew her on a personal level.

Education and the search for truth were paramount in Kathleen's short life. Not satisfied only with textbooks and the thoughts of others, she adopted a "roll up your sleeves" philosophy in which she delved into the current politics and events in her world. During the 1990 Gulf War a progressive Iowa State University campus newspaper, The Drummer, became her avenue of expression as she rallied to provide an alternative point of view of the war and to plead for world peace. She marched in Washington, D.C., for more negotiation toward a peaceful resolution to the conflict. These actions were in sync with Kathleen's previous campus activities. As a member of Amnesty International she wrote continuously to oppressive world government leaders, demanding the release of political prisoners. Even during her personal struggle of recuperating from a bout with her manic-depressive illness she mustered up the strength to volunteer with the Red Cross to assist those in need of food shelter and financial assistance during the Iowa flood of 1993.

On a lighter side, Kathleen was a musician songwriter and dancer. She loved music and drama! Accomplished on piano flute and guitar she was often heard playing guitar and singing many of her own compositions on Saturday nights in campus town cafes. Her love of music and drama also included theatrical roles in the annual Madrigal Dinner at Iowa State University and performances in the dance group Orchesis as well as a Shakespearean play presented at the Fisher Theatre in Ames.

Sadly Kathleen's keen mind was also her greatest foe as she became a young adult. At the age of 24 years she was diagnosed with a sudden onset of manic-depressive illness also known as bipolar illness. This was the beginning of five years of anguish, discouragement, bouts of euphoria dipping into depression, and a difficult struggle for Kathleen. Once actively involved with college and friends, she found herself coping with an inability to concentrate and a lack of motivation to perform sometimes even the minimal chores of daily living. Supported by family and friends, she did not give up but tenaciously continued her studies part-time. She did not resort to self-pity or cynicism but kept a gentle composure even when she saw her dearest friends moving on with their lives into careers and new communities. During the last five years of her life, Kathleen found herself trying to cultivate new friendships as her closest friends moved away. This was a great challenge for her due to several hospitalizations which interrupted her normal place in the mainstream of life. To maintain a sense of self-worth and dignity, she delved into books on spiritual healing and journaled about the insidious illness that wanted to rob her of herself. An ensign to her loving compassion for others, her last act of charity was performed the aflernoon before she died. Not feeling well herself but concerned for a new friend who was clinically depressed, Kathleen went to visit her friend to cheer her and offer words of encouragement. This was not only an act of kindness but also one of courage and selflessness, as her friend was living in a respite care center that Kathleen herself had recently moved from and which she feared she might need again.

Those who knew Kathleen loved her; none more than her own family. Many have expressed that Kathleen made a significant difference in their lives ... teaching them to truly care about the worth of each individual and how to love. If Kathleen could teach us today she would no doubt remind us that mental illness is like any other physical illness. It is not invited into one's life any more than kidney disease or cancer. It's something that we fight for awareness about.