CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In newspaper photography circles, he's a household name. Charleston native Bob Lynn enjoys a national reputation as a newsroom miracle worker known for transforming mediocre picture coverage into award-winning photojournalism.
He credits his success to a management approach based on the Golden Rule, motivating good work through encouragement and mutual respect.
A journalism degree from Marshall ultimately led to a reporting and photographer stints at the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Los Angeles Times.
But he found his true niche as a director of news photography. He spent three years as graphics editor at The Charleston Gazette where he revamped the photo department, redesigned the paper and engineered an era of photographic excellence.
During his 17-year tenure at the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, the paper won virtually every prestigious photojournalism award imaginable.
Now, he's sharing what he learned in a book, "Vision, Courage and Heart," a manual of sorts for anyone involved in news photography.
At 80, he still exudes the contagious vigor and enthusiasm that marked his prize-worthy management style.
"I lived for eight years at Armour Park where Riverwalk Plaza is now. There were about 70 government-owned duplexes there.
"My dad worked at The Diamond for 35 years and eventually became manager of women's ready-to-wear. We practically lived at the store. On Sunday, when the store was closed, we would get in the package chute on the fifth floor and slide down to the basement.
"My mother's oldest brother became president of the Gazette. He was Jim and Bob Smith's father.
"We moved to the ancestral home up on Wildwood Drive, between Breezemont and Edgewood. My great-grandparents built the house in 1892. It's probably the oldest home in the valley owned by one family. That's where I live.
"I was the best artist in class through high school. I wanted to go to college and be an illustrator. The art teacher at Stonewall had gone to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and he got me in there despite my grades. In English, I averaged a D. I flunked three of six math courses.
"When I looked around at the students at Pratt, there was a Rembrandt there and a Monet over there. I didn't want to go into something that I was only going to be pretty good at.
"I let the Army draft me during the Korean War. Four days before I got my orders, they signed the Armistice, thank goodness.
"So I was going to Europe. While I was home on leave, my dad got me my first camera, a little Ansco. Going over on the ship, I took all kinds of pictures of the troops.
"I ended up playing regional basketball. That's all we did. I was spoiled rotten. Come baseball season they got me, a private, to build a baseball diamond near our facility. So I played baseball all summer. In the fall, they put me in charge of the intramural touch football league.
"The Army was fun. It helped me grow up. I got out in December of 1954.
"I decided I wanted to be an architect and applied at the University of Cincinnati. They said not with those grades. WVU turned me down. So I went to Marshall and talked to the admissions officer for an hour. I had to talk my way into Marshall to make up the grades so I could go to University of Cincinnati as a co-op student.
"I was taking bonehead English at Marshall. The instructor loved to write short stories. He said we would take one week and write short stories. I wrote one about three guys in Korea in combat. He liked it and told me not to worry about diagramming sentences and to just write short stories.
"Cincinnati finally said I could come but I would have to start as a freshman. I said no. Writing was thrilling. I decided I would go into journalism and be a reporter.
"I had to take something for a three-hour credit. I saw news photography. It looked like fun. And that's how it happened. I graduated from Marshall in January of 1959.
"My first job was at the Wilmington Morning Star in North Carolina, 19,000 circulation, in a two-man sports department. My sports editor moved to New England. They hired a young guy. We talked about how we were going to cover the big games, Duke and all those. He said we would take turns.
"He covered the first game, second game, third, fourth and fifth. I finally asked about our agreement. He said he'd never made that promise. The managing editor was standing there. With all of my diplomatic powers, I called him a lying SOB. That's when I started thinking about another job, because I didn't have one after that.