|Louisiana State Representative for
District 1 (northern Caddo and Bossier parishes)
|Preceded by||James H. "Jimmy" Wilson|
|Succeeded by||Roy M. "Hoppy" Hopkins|
|Born||Bruce Newton Lynn
March 25, 1925
Gilliam, Caddo Parish
|Died||September 28, 2016(aged 91)|
|Spouse(s)||Margaret Eugenia Johnson Lynn (married 1949–2014, her death)|
Bruce N. Lynn, II
|Parents||James Wiley and Irene Bruce Lynn|
Belcher High School
|Service/branch||United States Marine Corps|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
Bruce Newton Lynn, I (March 25, 1925 – September 28, 2016), was an American businessman and banker who was a Republican member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1976 to 1988. He was a native and resident of the village of Gilliam (pronounced GIL LAM) in Caddo Parish, where three generations of his family have operated the J.W. Lynn cotton plantation.
Lynn was born to James Wiley Lynn, an Arkansas native, and the former Irene Bruce (1895–1982), originally from Kansas City, Kansas. He graduated in 1942 from the former Belcher High School. He attended Texas A&M University in College Station and later Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, but he did not graduate from either institution. Instead he later completed banking school.
In 1949, he married the former Margaret Eugenia Johnson (May 16, 1926 – October 3, 2014), who was born in Shreveport and reared in Doyline in south Webster Parish. She graduated from Doyline High School, attended business school, and worked at the Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant west of Minden during World War II. It was while she was later employed at Continental Bank that she first met Bruce Lynn.
The two Lynn children are Bruce Lynn, Jr., who operates the family farm and is divorced from the former Jane Downs, a sister of former state Representative Hollis Downs of Ruston, and Pamela Lynn Broesamle of Scotts Valley near San Jose, California. The Lynnes had five grandchildren. Grandson Ross Alexander Lynn (1979–2013), a photographer and mountain climber, was killed at the age of thirty-three in a farming accident on the Lynn plantation. The Ross Alexander Lynn Foundation was established in his honor in Ruston.
With his background in cotton production, Lynn was in 1970 the president of the National Cotton Council of America, a trade association based in Memphis, Tennessee, and Washington, D.C. He remained thereafter an advisor to the council board. Because he was in Washington with the cotton council late in 1980, he became a member of the transition team for President-elect Ronald W. Reagan. Lynn once told an interviewer that the election of Reagan remains the highlight of his personal political interest.
His legislative elections
Lynn first filed to run in 1971 as a Republican for the District 1 seat (parts of Caddo and Bossier parishes) in the state legislature, but he withdrew after James H. "Jimmy" Wilson won the Democratic nomination. Wilson was a former mayor of the town of Vivian, where he and Lynn had served together on the North Caddo Hospital Board. In 1975, Wilson relinquished the state House seat to run unsuccessfully for the Louisiana State Senate. He lost to his then fellow Democrat Don W. Williamson.
Lynn narrowly won the general election to succeed Wilson. He defeated Democrat Powell A. Layton, the principal of Northwood High School in Shreveport, by only 40 votes: 2,894 (50.3 percent) to Layton's 2,854 (49.7 percent). Lynn's House terms coincided with six other Republicans, including B.F. O'Neal, Jr., Art Sour, and Clark Gaudin. Three other members, A.J. McNamara, Lane A. Carson, and Michael F. "Mike" Thompson, had been elected as Democrats but switched their affiliations.
Thereafter, Jimmy Wilson joined the Republican Party and waged two unsuccessful campaigns for Louisiana's 4th congressional district after the seat was vacated in January 1979 by popular long-term Democrat Joe D. Waggonner.
Lynn was narrowly reelected in the 1979 general election, 51.7 percent to 48.3 percent for the late Democrat Jack Miller, a businessman from Blanchard, also in Caddo Parish. He defeated Miller again in 1983. When Lynn declined to run in 1987, the seat went Democratic with the election of Caddo Parish Commission president Roy M. "Hoppy" Hopkins of Oil City, who subsequently died in office during the last year of his fifth term. Hopkins' commission seat was filled for a term by the late James Whitfield Williamson, a businessman who served as the mayor of Vivian from 1972 to 1986 and an older brother of Don Williamson.
Inmate sues Secretary Lynn
After his legislative service, Lynn was the director of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections from 1988 to 1992, under appointment from then Governor Buddy Roemer.
In his capacity as corrections secretary, Lynn was sued by an inmate who claimed invasion of privacy during a body search carried out on all convicts in the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola. Under orders from Lynn, David Keith Elliott submitted to a visual body cavity search. The searches were conducted in the general presence of other inmates, guards, and three bystanders. The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana granted Lynn's motion for summary judgment and dismissed Elliott's suit.
Elliott then filed before the New Orleans-based United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in the case entitled Elliott v. Lynn. Elliott claimed that the search violated his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution.
The three-judge appeals court panel held that, while the Constitution protects against "unreasonable search and seizure," Elliott was not deprived of a "state created liberty interest without due process of law." Elliott had also claimed that Lynn was not entitled to the protection provided by qualified immunity.
The court found that during the period "preceding June 9, 1989, an extraordinary number of murders, suicides, stabbings, and cuttings occurred within the Louisiana State Penitentiary. These circumstances created an emergency situation, and the defendant Lynn ordered an institution-wide shakedown … All 3,164 prisoners, including Elliott, were subjected to a visual body cavity search over a period of two and one-half days. To facilitate this massive search effort, Lynn brought in additional correctional officers." The court hence found in Lynn's favor.
Death and legacy
Upon Lynn's death in 2016 at the age of ninety-one, memorial services were held at the First Presbyterian Church of Shreveport. Jack Dillard, the long-term farm correspondent for KWKH radio and The Shreveport Times recalled the former legislator, accordingly:
With the passing of Bruce Lynn of Belcher on September 28, farmer, family man, politician and a tremendous voice for agriculture, we will always have a void to fill as Bruce represented our part of Louisiana and agriculture in his positive and honest way. When I came to KWKH Radio and The Shreveport Times in the fall of 1959, KWKH’s Jack Timmons took me to meet Mr. Lynn and advised [that I] get to know him and follow his leadership. That I have done. He led in many ways with many phases of life and was always a person available to counsel with. In recent years as both of us backed away from present tasks, I had not shared time with him. When it was appropriate he always had a positive word that benefited. As president of the National Cotton Council of America, when cotton was king, he was at his best. We extend our sympathies to the family and as he has now moved to a “much higher” area of service. Bruce Lynn will be a leader.
- "Bruce Lynn-obituary". The Shreveport Times. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
- "Margaret Lynn". The Shreveport Times. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
- "Juel Chappell Obituary". The Monroe News-Star. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
- "Ross Alexander Lynn". Bozeman, Montana: Bozeman Daily Chronicle. August 30, 2013. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
- "Election returns, State Representative, District 1,". Louisiana Secretary of State. February 24, 2007. Retrieved July 14, 2009.
- Jack Dillard (October 9, 2016). "Passing of Lynn leaves void in Louisiana agriculture". The Shreveport Times. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
James H. "Jimmy" Wilson
|Louisiana State Representative for
District 1 (Caddo and Bossier parishes)
Bruce Newton Lynn, I
Roy McArthur "Hoppy" Hopkins