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Sylvia Lyn: The entrepreneur, the philanthropist, the phenomenal woman

Published:Saturday | September 10, 2016 | 9:00 AM
Sylvia Lyn in front of a hearse with a coffin.
Lyn attributes all her successes to God and believes she is kept by His continued guidance and blessings on her life.
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Precious are the women who have exercised resilience in the midst of adversity to accomplish great things. One such person is Sylvia Lyn.

From a humble background, having been born and raised in rural Trelawny, Lyn knew that she needed to excel in life - and she worked tirelessly towards that.

Her journey to excellence began when she, along with her husband, Calvin Lyn, opened a wholesale in the town they lived in and then later solidifying their places in the central region and the island as the owners of one of the most known and respected funeral homes: Lyns' Funeral Home.

"I left Jamaica and went to England to do nursing, but I did not complete that course. I later returned home, got married and started the wholesale business."

Lyn was quite a force to be reckoned with as she never backed down from hard work. She was crucial to the business' success, from overseeing the operations to even driving six-wheeler trucks to deliver goods.

"I did it all. But the thing is, I still wasn't pleased. I still had a yearning for nursing or a profession in the field of medicine."

This dream would soon become a reality, through what her husband deemed a joke initially, but for her, it was one of the best suggestions he ever made.

"I like watching Dracula and Frankenstein (horror movies), and one day (while) Calvin and I were coming from Kingston, I told him I wanted to go watch one of those movies. But he liked detective movies. I insisted that I wanted to watch Dracula and he said, 'Ok, you know what, let us open a funeral home and then you can have all the 'duppies' to deal with'," Lyn recalled laughingly.

 

START OF THE BUSINESS

 

So said, so done. The two later opened the funeral home, though at that time, they only provided body-storage services.

"I was not satisfied with just storing bodies, and so I went to Miami to do the course in mortuary science. I ended up doing my internship at Range Funeral Home in Miami, and that experience really helped to put me where I am today," she told Family & Religion.

It was there that Lyn first came in contact with Bob Marley, not as patron of one of his concerts, but as his mortician.

"The owner of the funeral home - Ms Range - she was such a lovely woman. She was also a well respected councilwoman in Miami who even had a boulevard named after her. My time there with her was great, but what really made it interesting was when I was told I had to help dress Bob's body."

She continued, "To be honest, I didn't know he was that popular. It was after he died I realised that he was very popular. I was saddened at his passing - such a talented, popular man loved by all. But I was also in awe at the experience. I remember how handsome he looked, and we dressed him in full white with the very first guitar he owned."

During this certification period, Lyn had to travel back and forth to tend to her duties as a wife, mother, a philanthropist and an entrepreneur.

"My daughter boarded at Holy Childhood (High School), but from time to time, I had to make a trip home. I remember when Bob Marley's body was shipped down, the funeral director and I had to come down as well; and I remember an instance where I had to take this lady from Kitson Town in St Catherine to go to a funeral in Miami and take her back home to Jamaica. There was just a lot that I had to do. We are in the business of helping people, and that is why to this day we do a free funeral every month," she said.

It has been 42 years since Lyn has been in the funeral services business, and she says there are some things that you can never get used to.

 

GRIEVING WITH FAMILY

 

"Embalming is not the hardest part of my job; meeting the family is, especially those sudden deaths and suicides. You actually grieve with them. You deal with it because you were trained for it, but it gets hard, especially if it's someone you're close to."

With a plan to turn over the business to her daughter and her grandson, who are both trained morticians, Lyn explained that she is very pleased with her accomplishments and would trade none of her experiences for anything.

"I think to myself that I have done well. Lyns' is number one in Jamaica, and to say that I was the first female owner of a funeral home in the Caribbean and a trained mortician, that makes me proud," she beamed.

Lyn is not only the owner of the funeral home, but is also the owner of the Hargreaves Memorial Hospital and he actively helps those in need. She has received several awards for her philanthropic work. She has also been recognised for sterling service to the community, both locally and internationally.

The lover of people with a good sense of humour, who loves to swim, Lyn attributes all her successes to God and believes she is kept by His continued guidance and blessings on her life.

familyandreligion@gleanerjm.com