ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Alaska has lost a major voice in Valdez news. Valdez radio station KVAK says newsman Pat Lynn died Saturday at the age of 75. Lynn’s wife of 50 years Jean, his son Richard and daughter in-law Amanda were at his side.
Patrick Karl Lynn was born in Quebec on Jan. 18, 1936. He migrated to the U.S. in 1958 and began his journalism career in 1962 with the Pacifica Tribune, under publisher Bill Drake. He then served as editor of the St. Augustine Record in Florida through the late 1960s.
In the early 1970s, Lynn became executive editor of the Columbus, Mississippi Commercial Dispatch. He abolished several racist practices at the paper, including the segregation of black and white obituaries and wedding announcements, and people of color appearing on the front page only in a criminal context. His term as editor of the Commercial Dispatch lasted until 1978, when he took over as news director for local TV station WCBI, eventually becoming an anchorman.
Lynn’s Alaska journalism career began in 1981, when he became a news director and anchorman at KTVA Channel 11 in Anchorage. He was briefly an anchorman at Bismarck, N.D. station KXMB before returning to Alaska and moving to Valdez. In 1988 he became owner of the local radio station, KVAK, dubbing himself the “Voice of Prince William Sound.”
A milestone in Lynn’s career took place during the Exxon Valdez oil spill in March 1989, when KVAK was ABC’s closest affiliate to the scene. For months Lynn provided ABC listeners with daily -- sometimes hourly -- reports on the cleanup efforts.
After the oil spill, the couple launched the Valdez Pioneer in partnership with John Lindauer’s chain of newspapers. When Lindauer sold the chain, Lynn was able to secure sole ownership of the Pioneer, killed the publication, and started a new weekly, the Valdez Star. In 1993 Lynn sold KVAK in order to focus his energies on the Star, gaining a local reputation for championing the underdog.
“Pat was closer to the people dealing with issues that affected them directly,” said John Devens, who was mayor of Valdez during the 1989 spill. “Pat would take on anybody if he thought they had been dealt wrongly -- city, state or federal, Pat just wasn’t afraid.”
In 2004 Lynn bought out his rival, the Vanguard, from Alaska Newspapers Inc. Shortly thereafter, he sold the Valdez Star and entered retirement.
In addition to wife Jean and son Richard (Amanda) Lynn, he is survived by his sister Dorothy, brothers Donald and Wayne of Ontario, and brother John Dale of Vancouver.
Lynn’s ashes will be spread in the Talamoda Cemetery in St. Augustine, Fla.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Pat Lynn Memorial Fund at Wells Fargo Bank.
A memorial is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 14 at 4 p.m. at the Valdez Civic Center.