Paying it forward has always been a lesson Gary Lynn followed.
In 1967, he graduated from Frewsburg High School with a “C” average. He was surprised to learn that upon graduation, he had been one of two students selected to receive a scholarship from Marlin Rockwell Corporation to continue his studies at Jamestown Community College.
“I recall being interviewed at the college,” Lynn said in an interview in 1991. “The counselor recommended that I would be better off joining the military as he believed I would not succeed in college.”
Not one to back down from a challenge, and to show the counselor, his peers and the employees of MRC that he was worthy of their scholarship, Lynn worked hard and graduated as an “A” student.
At the age of 25, Lynn established Allied Fire Protection Systems, Inc., which today is one of the largest automatic sprinkler companies in New York State.
In 1985, he decided he wanted to give other students in the Chautauqua region the same opportunity that Marlin Rockwell had given him.
He created the Allied Fire Protection Systems, Inc. Scholarship Fund at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation to support graduating Chautauqua region seniors, with a priority to Frewsburg students, attending JCC and studying construction, engineering, mechanical technology, electrical technology or computer science.
“None of us in business have become owners or managers on our own,” Lynn recalled. “We have all needed to be nudged or pushed by a friend, teacher, or peer in order to climb our success ladder.”
One of the students benefitting from Lynn’s scholarship is Karl Holmberg, a computer science major at JCC.
“I decided to major in computer science because I enjoy working on computers,” Holmberg said. “Receiving (this scholarship) helps me with my educational needs and reaching my future goals.”
In 2006, Lynn, along with his family, again decided to partner with the Community Foundation to support the community that believed in them.
The Lynn Foundation Fund was created to support religious and non-religious organizations. In the past 12 years, the fund has granted over $90,000 to projects, activities and initiatives throughout the region.
Today, although Lynn has passed the family business to his son, he remains committed to supporting his community and has been publically recognized for his many philanthropic contributions, even though he would humbly shy away from praise.
“If you are like myself and believe that you should return to God and our community a portion of what you have received, then I encourage you to (look into it),” Lynn said. “Maybe, just maybe, the seed in which you plant will grow and multiply, making our community a better place for all of us.”
For 40 years, the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation has worked together with its inspiring donors, selfless volunteers and grateful community organizations to share their stories for enriching the quality of life for all who live here.