October 8, 1999

Accident claims former VUMC photographer

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Lynn DeLaney Saunders

Lynn DeLaney Saunders, who as photographer for the Department of News and Public Affairs from 1984 to 1987 was responsible for photographing many of the signature events that occurred at VUMC during the mid-'80s, died Sept. 23 from injuries she suffered in a one-car accident near her home in Bremerton, Wash.

Ms. Saunders, 46, was photo editor at The Sun, Bremerton's daily newspaper. In her career, she had also photographed for the Orlando Sentinel, The Ledger of Lakeland, Fla., The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, and The Tennessean.

Among the newsmaking VUMC people and events chronicled by Ms. Saunders were the first heart-lung transplant patient; the youngest patient at that time to receive a heart transplant in Tennessee; coverage of the then-new LifeFlight helicopter ambulance program; and the birth of Vanderbilt's only set of quintuplets.

Ms. Saunders, who had encountered and fought to overcome personal illness in her own life, brought a great compassion to her work, colleagues remembered.

Wayne Wood, assistant director of News and Public Affairs, remembered working closely with Ms. Saunders during her time at VUMC.

"She was a great, caring person and friend, and she was a wonderful, hard-working photographer," he said. "Those things aren't unrelated — it was Lynn's gift to connect with the people she was photographing."

"Lynn was a loving and thoughtful person who was an inspiration to be around," said Gladys Smith, who also worked in News and Public Affairs with Ms. Saunders. "No matter what she faced, she always had time and an encouraging word for others."

"Lynn was one of those people who truly made the world a better place," said Dawn Dressler, managing editor of The Sun. "It was my honor to have Lynn call me her friend. I've never known anyone who had a higher level of integrity than she did. We will feel her loss tremendously."

Ms. Saunders was a native of Louisville, Ky., and earned two degrees from Western Kentucky University, in graphic design in 1982 and in photojournalism in 1989.

It was her desire to focus on newspaper work which led her to leave Vanderbilt and return to school. She accepted a photographer's job at The Sun in 1991, and was named photo editor earlier this year.

She is survived by her husband, Martin C. Saunders (the couple would have celebrated their 27th anniversary on October 3); a son, Nathan, of Seattle; her parents, Jack and Esther DeLaney of Venice, Fla.; and two brothers, two sisters, and two half-sisters.

A memorial service was held on Sept. 29 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Bremerton.

Her family requests that any memorial gifts be given to the charity of one's choice, or to the Lynn DeLaney Saunders Scholarship Fund, c/o the Scripps Howard Foundation, P.O. Box 5380, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45201. Contributions will be used to fund scholarships in photojournalism at Western Kentucky University.