Dr Robert Garner Lynam (1859-1922)
On Friday 1st December Hum and I lost our dear brother Robert, who has served our school most loyally and skilfully for the past 32 years.
It was only a couple of months ago that he took up residence with me at 12 Bardwell Road – an arrangement I had fondly hoped we would both enjoy for many a year to come. It was not to be.
Yesterday’s edition of the ‘Oxford Times’ paid tribute to his life:
“He was the second son of the late Charles Lynam, of Stoke-on-Trent. He, with his five brothers, was educated at King William’s College, Isle of Man… In 1879 he gained a scholarship at King’s College, London, and in 1880 the Warneford Scholarship. He was one of Dr Lister‘s pupils… and from 1884-89 became house surgeon and house physician at the North Staffordshire Infirmary.
In 1890 he joined Dr WT Brooks as medical practitioner in Oxford and in 1896 he took his MA degree as a member of Hertford College…”
Captain RG Lynam
During the war ‘The Doctor’ was given a commission and served as captain in the RAMC, working for the 3rd Southern General Hospital.
His partner in the Oxford practice, Dr WT Brooks, is quoted as saying “as an anaesthetist he was without rival and I believe he never lost a single patient out of the many thousands he anaesthetised. This is remarkable when it is remembered that this applies not only to his private and hospital patients, but to the large number of severely wounded men who needed operations at the 3rd Southern General Hospital.”
In addition, he was commandant of the Oxford Women’s Voluntary Aid Division, getting the highest praise from the inspecting officer. He also gained a high reputation as anaesthetist to the Headington Orthopaedic Hospital.
His obituary gave good account of his interests and character:
“He was President of the Oxford University Chess Club and played two years against Cambridge and against the American Universities. He was a capable and active member of the University Skating, Lawn Tennis and Croquet Clubs. His papers contributed to the Oxford Medical Club on literary, social and art subjects were full of a dry humour and subtle wit which made them always popular…
To these high and varied achievements in Dr Lynam was added a character of indomitable courage, of devotion to duty and of a refined purity of life and thought, which filled all those who knew him intimately with a proud and admiring love. With a deep reserve in religion, he had a firm faith in a good and Almighty God and in the certain reunion of kindred souls hereafter…”
However, it is as part of our school community that we will remember him best. As Hum has observed, he had become part of the place, and was known by everybody at the School. He was daily at the School House tending to our boarders’ needs.
The ‘Oxford Times’ echoed our feelings for him and described his final days:
“He gave the most unremitting care and loving attention to the health of the boys as medical officer to his brother’s preparatory school, and on Armistice Night, the day before his fatal illness, he attended at the school field during the fireworks and bonfire so as to be on the spot in case of accident…”
He died after three weeks’ brave and patient endurance, from an attack of pneumonia, aged 63. He had been a life-long sufferer from asthma.
The funeral was held on Monday (4th) and the ‘Oxford Times’ noted that “As the cortege passed Lynam’s School in Bardwell Road, students and masters paid a tribute of respect to their headmaster’s brother by lining the pavement with heads bared.”
The service was held at the Wolvercote Cemetery. The committal sentences were read by Rev TT Blockley (who taught Divinity at the School before the War and whose son Nigel Blockley was a Dragon).
Nearby is the grave of young Kenneth Stradling, who left us almost exactly two years ago, aged 10.