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Lynn Welchli

Lynn Bennett Luckenbach Welchli

Saturday, October 3rd, 1936 - Sunday, February 9th, 2020
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Lynn Bennett Luckenbach Welchli (October 3, 1936 – February 9, 2020)

Lifelong Michigan resident Lynn Bennett Luckenbach Welchli passed away on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, surrounded by family. She was 83.

Lynn leaves behind her beloved four children: Clune J. Walsh III, E. Bennett Walsh, Ami E. Walsh (John Baird), and Sheila Kirk Walsh (Michael Dolan). She also leaves behind four grandsons (Clune J. Walsh IV, Sloane F. Walsh, Isaiah L. Walsh, and Ren R. Walsh), three granddaughters (Clare W. Walsh, Lily E. Walsh, and Mila K. Walsh), and her younger sister, Julie Beadle (Lyle). Lynn was the wife of the late John Welchli.

Lynn was born on October 3, 1936, at Detroit’s Women’s Hospital to Edward Tichenor Bennett, a founding partner with the firm Manley, Bennett, McDonald & Co., and Mary Withie Bennett, a housewife. During Lynn’s early years, her family lived in an apartment building across the street from Palmer Park in Detroit. On Sundays, Lynn’s family traveled just a few miles down Woodward Avenue to Highland Park for dinners with her maternal grandmother. Bess Brown, affectionately known as “ByBoss,” had a profound impact on shaping the woman Lynn would become. A devoted English teacher at Northern Senior High School on the east side of Detroit for 48 years, ByBoss inspired Lynn’s curiosity and interest in helping others.

Lynn’s early schooling included Quarton Elementary School, Kingswood School, and Seaholm High School, where she graduated in 1954. Her happiest memories during those years were her close friendships and athletic pursuits. She learned to swim at Orchard Lake Country Club, where she also excelled at tennis, training under the legendary coach Jean Hoxie. Lynn went on to win many Class A women’s tennis championship titles. Later in life, she exceled at another racquet sport, platform tennis.

But her greatest joy was horseback riding, a sport she loved because she adored horses and new challenges. If there was a bit of risk involved, all the better; she naturally gravitated to the show jumping class. Riding her beloved chestnut mare, “My Secret,” she won countless ribbons and trophies during her teenage years. When Lynn moved her horse from Outland Riding Stables to Bloomfield Open Hunt Club, she rode My Secret down Quarton Road, then a rutted dirt lane, with her younger sister, Julie, and father driving behind her because it was easier to ride the horse to the new stables than to hire a trailer. Riding, she said later, “helped sustain me as a person. It gave me the confidence to be a risk-taker and a competitor.”

After high school, Lynn attended Centenary Junior College for Women, in Hackettstown, New Jersey. She was grateful for her teachers, especially a professor who taught a music appreciation class and introduced her to Mussorgsky’s famous piano suite “Pictures at the Exhibition.” But she had higher academic ambitions. Her heart was set on attending the University of Michigan, but this was against her father’s wishes because he believed his daughter would thrive in a smaller classroom setting. Lynn took matters into her own hands: She enlisted a dear high school friend, Ann McDonald (Trost), who was then a freshman at Michigan, to send her an application. Only after Lynn had been officially accepted did she tell her father. He relented and allowed her to transfer, providing one condition: She must attend one of the smaller professional schools. She chose the School of Dentistry, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in dental hygiene in 1958. Her college years in Ann Arbor where among her happiest and included cherished experiences as a member of Delta Gamma sorority. There, in the DG House on Oxford Road, she lived with Ann McDonald and met Sally Beardslee (Foster), who would also become a lifelong friend.

About the same time, Lynn met her first husband, the late Clune J. Walsh, Jr., who became the father of her four children. The couple lived on Vendome Road in Grosse Pointe Farms until they divorced in 1971. Lynn moved her children to Ann Arbor and then Birmingham, where they attended her former elementary school, Quarton; her daughters went onto Kingswood and her oldest son attended Seaholm.

Her children’s struggles with dyslexia and learning disabilities led Lynn to shift her career focus away from dental hygiene to educational psychology. In 1984, at the age of 47, she earned a Master of Education from Wayne State University. That same year she became an active member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA). She was admired by her peers for her enthusiasm and leadership skills; in 2002, they elected her to a two-year term as IECA Board President.

During her tenure, Lynn championed the emergence of a new specialty focused on adolescent anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and other therapeutic issues. She made it a priority for all IECA members to provide guidance in these areas, as well as offering support for traditional school placements. “To accommodate, we enlarged the conference, added a fair for such therapeutic programs,” remembers IECA CEO Mark Sklarow, who worked with Lynn when she was President. “As a result, the organization grew by a third. She was among the most gracious, kind, and supportive leaders I’ve known.”

When she wasn’t working hard at her educational practice, Lynn enjoyed vacationing in Northern Michigan, particularly summer stays at Menonaqua Beach Club, where she’d gone with her family as a child. She also frequently visited Harbor Springs with her second husband, Carl Luckenbach. Among her fondest memories was walking the beach with her dog, Peanut, and watching sunsets over Little Traverse Bay.

Classical music concerts and filmgoing were two other lifelong passions of Lynn’s. These interests inspired her volunteer work as a board member of the University of Michigan’s University Musical Society and the Detroit Institute of Art’s Friends of the Detroit Film Theatre. One of her fondest memories at the Detroit Film Theatre was organizing and attending a special screening of The Kite Runner in 2007, which featured an on-stage Q&A between DFT director Elliot Wilhelm and the film’s producer, Lynn’s son E. Bennett Walsh.

Though Lynn never mastered an instrument (she played piano as a child), she considered herself “an accomplished listener.” The pleasure she enjoyed listening deeply was evident when she attended concerts. And even years after hearing the likes of great musicians like Yo-Yo Ma, Lang Lang, and Jessye Norman, the joy she recalled from their exquisite performances never dimmed. In much the same way, she gave the gift of listening to the hundreds of students she advised during her long career as an educational consultant. Helping teens with stigmatized conditions like depression, anxiety, and substance abuse to successfully enroll in college, often launching them into bright futures, gave her tremendous satisfaction.

Like many of the young people she helped, Lynn also struggled with mental health issues. During the last seven years of her life, she suffered from a serious depressive illness. She spent her final three years as a resident in a nursing home facility not far from her home in Grosse Pointe Farms. The family is tremendously grateful to the compassionate caregivers—especially the nurses, aides and support staff at Riverview Health & Rehab North—who cared for Lynn during this difficult time.

Lynn once said that one of her defining qualities was her desire “to get to the core.” She was driven to understand her life, and the world, with all its transcendent and troubling complexities. Those who knew her admired her exceptional drive, especially in the face of great challenges, whether they were athletic events like guiding her horse gracefully over jumps or trying to recover her sense of self after a depressive episode. She was always seeking a place where she could feel free, where she could feel, as she once said, “like the wind.”

A funeral service will be held at 11am on Saturday, March 14, at Christ Church Grosse Pointe, 61 Grosse Pointe Boulevard, Grosse Pointe Farms, MI 48236. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made in Lynn’s name to the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) Foundation, 3251 Old Lee Highway, Suite 510, Fairfax, VA 22030, or University Musical Society, Burton Memorial Tower, 881 North University Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI 48109.
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Service Details

  • Service

    Saturday, March 14th, 2020 | 11:00am
    Saturday, March 14th, 2020 11:00am
    Christ Church Grosse Pointe
    61 Grosse Pointe Blvd
    Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan 48236
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Aileen smith Eleey

Posted at 01:45pm
I’m so sorry for your loss Ami! Now I see where you get your spirit!
What an amazing woman. We need more like her. Lots of love to you and your family

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