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Whitefield artist's portrait of John Lynch unveiled at State House

Former Gov. John Lynch, left, a Democrat of Hopkinton, who spent eight years in the Corner Office (2005-2013), stands with his pediatrician wife, Dr. Susan Lynch, at the unveiling of his portrait on Friday, June 22, in Representatives Hall. Nationally renowned portrait painter Ralph "Stoney" Jacobs of Whitefield shared in the happy occasion. (Photo by Edith Tucker) (click for larger version)
June 27, 2018
CONCORD — Former Governor John Lynch, a Democrat who served four terms in the Corner Office from 2005 to 2013, revisited the second floor of the State House on Friday afternoon to unveil his official portrait, painted by nationally renowned New Hampshire artist, Ralph Stone "Stoney" Jacobs of Whitefield.

Lynch's wife, Dr. Susan Lynch, and two of their three adult children — second daughter Julia, along with her fiancé Brian Williams, and son Hayden — were on hand to enjoy the celebration. Friends plus former commissioners, including DRED Cmr. George Bald, and other executive branch colleagues, some state senators and state representatives plus Secretary of State Bill Gardner and Law Ballot Commission chairman Brad Cook were also on hand.

The former governor called out two women who had made a special effort to be present: Sen. Maggie Hassan, who occupied the Corner Office directly following his tenure and now serves the state in Washington, D.C., and Dorothy Peterson, a longtime friend who is the widow of former Gov. Walter Peterson, who he described an inspiration and a mentor to him.

Two now-retired reporters were also in Representatives Hall: Norma Love, formerly of the Associated Press, and Tom Fahey, State House Bureau Chief for the Union Leader, now a lobbyist.

The artist also had admirers on hand. Four longtime North Country painting students drove down to see their teacher, Stoney, share the limelight, as did his social worker daughter, Emily Stone Jacobs of Jefferson, and her two sons, Andrew and Oliver Deniz, who both will attend the Whitefield School this fall now that the Jefferson School is shuttered.

Emily's fiancé, Sen. Jeff Woodburn of Whitefield, noted later that he had seen the artist refine the Lynch portrait in the many months it had taken to complete.

The Lynch portrait is the second by Stoney to be commissioned for the State House. The stunning portrait he painted of former Gov. and now-Senator Jeanne Shaheen already hangs in the anteroom to the Executive Chambers. Other commissioned portraits hang at the Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Mass., and the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, Mass. Collectors across the globe own still lifes and landscapes that he has painted, including Oprah Winfrey, a royal family in Saudi Arabia and the Lynches. He works at home in his studio, which is modeled after the one he lived in years ago at the Fenway Studios in Boston.

No state money is spent for portraits of governors; friends and supporters raise the money to commission them.

Second Daughter Julia talked informally about her dad to the crowd of well over 100, pointing out happily that she had been involved in all four of his campaigns. He loved to shake hands and talk with people. "He cared about people, especially kids and education," she said. Proudly Julia pointed out that her dad was a strong advocate for civil rights and was the first Governor in the U.S. to sign marriage equality legislation.

Lynch thanked his wife and his family for making it possible for him to do his job. "Susan was my rock; she had my back," he said.

"Governing is not a job that you can be successful at alone," he said, pointing out that he had had a terrific team whose members had worked together and trusted one another.

There were sad times, challenges and successes, Lynch recalled. "Over 30 military were killed in action, primarily in Iraq and Afghanistan, and three police officers were killed in the line of duty," he said.

There were three 100-year floods and a tornado and other "weather events," including windstorms and ice storms. The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was listed for closing by the federal government, but the Congressional delegation, the shipyard personnel and the community pulled together to get the decision reversed, and the facility was named as the nation's Gold Standard. The financial crisis of 2008 — the Great Recession — was a major challenge, and state government worked together to help ameliorate it. His campaign motto was: "You can keep an eye on the bottom line and still look out for the people."

Lynch reminisced about the pleasure he took in meeting with fourth-grade students from across the state who came to visit the State House as they learned about state government. "No matter what meeting I was in, I'd find a way to leave and meet with them," he said. "I still miss that part of the job."

The state's 80th governor, the longest serving in nearly two centuries, summed up his overarching belief: "This is the greatest state in the greatest country in the world."

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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