Biography: LYNN, Bob

LYNN, Robert “Bob”
Inducted: 1977
Born: Altadena, California

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Bob Lynn possessed all the attributes of a perfect gymnast. His height, body build, strength, and suppleness allowed him to perform standard moves with exceptional artistry, and he performed difficult movements that were all but impossible for others to execute. He was a member of the 1960’s Los Angeles gymnastic crowd that gathered at L.A. and Lincoln Heights High Schools at least twice a week and trained with the best in the West.  The group included myself, plus Jack Beckner, his brother, Dick, Bill Tom, Charlie Simms, and Armando Vega, all of whom were our “elite” coaches. The atmosphere was almost like a family gathering with the athletes constantly challenging others during practice to “Beats”, and the others gathered to informally judge the contestants as to who did best on a particular event that evening. More often than not, Bob was the evening’s champ.

Bob began his gymnastics at Eliot Jr. High School in the Pasadena school system. Jack Holland and Harry Bartruff coached him. He matriculated to John Muir High School in Pasadena and continued to be coached by Mr. Holland. He attended Pasadena City College under Jerry Todd.  Throughout this time, Richard “Dick” Beckner, USGHOF Inductee, (1992), became, in a sense, Bob’s mentor, driving him to workouts and helping him work the apparatus. Bob then transferred to USC for his sophomore year. He was coached at USC by Jack Beckner, USGHOF Inductee, (1976). World Championships: Team member, Prague, Czechoslovakia, (1962). NCAA Championships: Gold-AA, (1962); Gold-FX, (1961 & ’62); Gold-PB, (1960 & ’62); Gold-HB, (1962). SPAAU: Numerous medals throughout the ‘60’s. National AAU Championships: Gold-HB, Silver-AA & FX, & Bronze-PH, (1962); Bronze-HB (1966); Silver PB (1968).  Retirement: Bob retired from the world of competitive gymnastics in the early ’70, and he began teaching classes and gymnastics for 35 years at Eliot Middle School in Pasadena, CA, USA. Special Honor: Bob Lynn has the distinction of being the only American gymnast to do a handstand on the West Berlin side of the Berlin Wall. After the World Championships, the American team traveled to West Berlin for a competition/exhibition with the West German Team. Some tourist time was granted and most of the team went to the “Wall” for a look-see. A viewing platform was built so that the top of the wall was about knee high at the top of the viewing stand. Bob simply kicked up to a handstand, held it for a half-minute or so and dropped back to the platform. He was unaware of the three rifles pointed at him from guards on the Eastern side. The “Wall” in the platform viewing area was actually two walls separated by a DMZ about 30 ft. wide. It clearly separated the East and West sides. The Eastern side had numerous guard towers, each manned by an armed sentry, and it appeared that they were just waiting for this brave fellow to fall over in his handstand into the DMZ where he had a good chance of becoming a firing target.  When Bob dropped back onto the platform and was shown the guards and their pointed rifles, he remarked that it didn’t seem all that serious when he got the urge to do the handstand, but he promised himself to “ . . . first scope the territory in the future”. Family: (m) Karen Anderson. Children: John Robert, a teacher in Seattle, WA, Brian Vernon who is in the photographic business, and Meloni Kay, a Bank of America employee.

Sources: Primary data, photo, and general information courtesy of Jerry Wright, author of Gymnastics Who’s Who, 2005. Anecdote, introduction, commentary, and formatting by Dr. Larry Banner, Web Manager.

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