Neal James Lynch, age 82, recently of Livingston, Montana, formerly of Branson, Missouri, passed away peacefully with family at his side on October 30, 2018, in Livingston, Montana. He entered this world January 5, 1936 in St. Paul, Nebraska, the son of Arthur and Dorothy Lynch. Arrangements and cremation are under the direction of Franzen-Davis Funeral Home and Crematory.
Neal was an engaging gentleman with a contagious sense of humor and a magic trick up his sleeve at all times. Neal grew up in Nebraska where he helped his parents at the infamous Lynch’s Supper Club in St. Paul.
Neal was an enterprising youth and at the age of 18 started bottling his mother’s famous tomato-based salad dressing in the basement of their home. He personally sold the dressing into grocery chains in the area, all while his parents were out of town on a European tour - and without their knowledge. At one store, the owner asked him, “We already have 5 dressings on our shelves, why would I need another one?” It was 1954 and he was fearless in forging new territory and convincing store chains they would do well to take on the Dorothy Lynch brand dressing, even if it was expanding the standard offerings. After all, people would swipe the dressing from his parents’ restaurant so he suspected the demand would support the product, and he was right.
He started getting larger orders than anticipated because the dressing was flying off the shelves. Neal even asked a neighbor to help him build a conveyor belt to haul the boxes of the bottled Dorothy Lynch Salad Dressing out of the narrow basement stairway. The neighbor declined, telling Neal he thought he would likely be in big trouble with his parents when they discovered his make-shift venture. He took the back seat out of his car to accommodate the boxes of dressing as he made deliveries across the state and continued to begrudgingly haul the boxes out of the basement manually.
When his parents returned from Europe, his mother Dorothy was flabbergasted and informed him, “We don’t want to be in the bottling business.” However, the orders kept coming in and as Dorothy and Art saw the immense potential, they got on board and gave Neal free rein to expand the enterprise. He worked tirelessly and successfully to expand distribution chains, growing the business out of the basement. And that is the real story of the founding of Nebraska’s beloved Dorothy Lynch Salad Dressing.
Neal was ambitious not only in entrepreneurial pursuits, but also in his quest to win the heart of Janice Loreen Allyn. His account was that he fell “crazy in love with her” from the moment he met her. Theirs was a love story worthy of the big screen. A talented beauty, Jan was urged to go to California to explore an acting career, but before she could leave, Neal swept her off her feet and they were married in June of 1956. Together for over 62 years, they shared many joys, adventures, and good times. Their favorite times together were at home or traveling around the world, where they met many friends. Their life together included raising 3 children and owning the Lynch’s Supper Club in St. Paul, Nebraska, where people would come from miles around to enjoy the famous Lynch cuisine. As their children grew to adulthood, Jan and Neal would jump in their Prevost Bus and tour the country, nurturing life-long friendships and making new ones.
Jan, the love of Neal’s life, went home to be with the Lord on April 26, 2018. Neal, ever the dedicated husband, demonstrated the beauty and depth of true love as he cared for Jan through a diagnosis of dementia in the last years of her life. In the months following her death, he would recount how cheerful and sweet she was and how she always knew who he was, even on her ‘bad’ days. Neal always honored Jan and continued to tell everyone he met how lucky he was, that he lived an “American dream life with his sweetheart.”
Neal was a supportive father and loved all three of his children. He was willing to help them in business pursuits, whether it was supporting his son, Monty, in traveling to represent Remington Firearm Company with Duke, the Wonder Dog, or partnering with his daughter, Kelly in building an oil-lease management company. Neal was always looking for ways to help his children succeed.
Neal was a person that valued and cultivated great friendships. He enjoyed camaraderie over coffee and shared interests. He was always approachable and easy to get to know. Neal’s long-held interest in jewelry morphed into a hobby of sorts and connected him with numerous friends and acquaintances. He would collect interesting pieces and trade or sell them with others that enjoyed the artistry behind jewelry making. In his last days particularly, he spoke often of his friends and how thankful he was for them.
It was impossible to know Neal and not see a magic trick or experience a practical joke. For a period of time, Neal jointly owned a theater on the strip in Branson, Missouri, which showcased world-class magic acts. He was a connoisseur of all things magic, amassing a legacy-level collection of magic tricks and memorabilia over the years. He was deft with slight-of-hand, witty, engaging, and generally when you saw candid images of him, the people surrounding him were all smiles.
Neal will be missed by his friends and family and his life honored for its vitality, humor and richness.
He was preceded in death by his parents; Arthur and Dorothy Lynch.
Neal is survived by children: Monty (Ginger) Lynch of Livingston, Montana, Kent Lynch of Wichita, Kansas, and Kelly Hiser of Aspen, Colorado; grandchildren: Lauren Lynch, Hunter Lynch, Gloria Lynch, Connor Hiser, and Garrett Hiser.
A celebration of Neal Lynch’s life will be held at the Living Hope Church Friday, November 2, 2018, at 2:00pm.