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Lynch recalled as pioneer of Plastic Surgery, Burn Center

Oct. 30, 2014, 10:11 AM

John B. Lynch, M.D., professor of Plastic Surgery, emeritus, who was former chair of Plastic Surgery and the first director of the Vanderbilt Burn Center when it opened in 1983, died Monday, Oct. 20. He was 85.

John B. Lynch, M.D.

Dr. Lynch, known as “J.B.” by friends and colleagues, had been a member of the Vanderbilt faculty since 1973.

Dr. Lynch, who grew up in Mt. Pleasant, Tennessee, earned his undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt and his medical degree from the University of Tennessee in 1952. After medical school he served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War before completing his residency at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

In addition to his role in Plastic Surgery and the Burn Center, Dr. Lynch also was chief of Head and Neck Services in the Vanderbilt University Affiliated Hospitals.

“J.B. Lynch was my teacher, my boss, my mentor, my role model and ultimately, I am proud to say, my friend,” said Bruce Shack, M.D., professor and chair of Plastic Surgery, who succeeded Dr. Lynch as department chair.

“His influence on me and countless other plastic surgeons was immeasurable. His intelligence and integrity were unmatched. He was a man of few words with a very dry wit and sense of humor. However, when he did speak, people listened closely because they knew what he had to say would be very much worth hearing.”

Another of those who Dr. Lynch influenced was Ruben Bueno Sr., M.D., who was Vanderbilt’s first resident in Plastic Surgery in 1973.

“I was lucky to be his first resident,” Bueno said. “He was our mentor and friend who helped to mold and inspire us, and for so many years we relied on his advice and wisdom.”

Bueno, who is the father of current Plastic Surgery faculty member Ruben Bueno Jr., M.D., noted the leadership roles in the field of plastic surgery assumed by many of Dr. Lynch’s former residents, and attributed that to Dr. Lynch’s guidance in involving many local plastic surgeons in the training of residents, thereby exposing trainees to a variety of experiences and perspectives.

During his career Dr. Lynch was recognized as a national leader in medicine and plastic surgery, and, among other honors, was president of the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, president of the Southern Medical Association, and director and chair of the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

He was also named Outstanding Alumnus of the University of Tennessee Medical School in 1987, and in 1991 he was awarded an Honorary Citation of the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, given in recognition of his part in the development of the specialty of Plastic Surgery and his outstanding scientific contributions to its advancement.

Dr. Lynch is survived by his wife, Mary Joyce Lynch; a son, John B. Lynch Jr.; a daughter, Margaret Callihan; a stepdaughter, Jennye Greene; seven grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews. His first wife, Jean Crane Lynch, preceded him in death.

The family suggested that donations in honor of Dr. Lynch be made to the J.B. Lynch Endowment in Plastic Surgery at Vanderbilt (through Gift and Donor Services, PMB 407727, 2301 Vanderbilt Place), Camp Hope Children’s Burn Camp or Covenant Presbyterian Church.

Dr. Lynch retired from his full time faculty position at Vanderbilt in 1996, but the institution remained close to his heart. Among those named as honorary pallbearers for his Oct. 23 service at Nashville’s Covenant Presbyterian Church were “the physicians and staff at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.”

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