Former professor dies after long illness
Lyn McDonaldPhoto Courtesy of Cathy Bowman
Lyn McDonald,

Retired OCCC professor Lyn McDonald died Friday, April 3, of COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The former graphic communications professor and program adviser was remembered by some on campus who knew her well.

McDonald is said to have pioneered OCCC’s graphic communications program.

English Professor Susan VanSchuyver served as her division dean while McDonald taught on campus.

“She really brought graphic communication into this decade,” VanSchuyver said. “She brought it from when airbrushing was one of the big deals in graphic communication to the most advanced Mac and the most advanced software and most advanced computers.

“She brought it from a very different place. It even had a different name and then she changed it to graphic communications when she made a big program change and changed the curriculum.

OCCC’s Macintosh Computer Technician Cathy Bowman was McDonald’s friend and saw her toward the end.

“She was a force,” she said. “She really was. She’ll be missed.”

VanSchuyver said, as a profesor, McDonald had a love for graphic communications.

“That was her baby. She was really passionate about that and protected it like a mother bear.”

Randy Anderson, who inherited his role as graphic communications professor from McDonald, said she should be remembered for her dedication to teaching the subject.

“She worked hard to put together a good program,” he said.

“She really had a strong program when she retired so it made my job so much easier.”

Bowman said McDonald developed a program for the sake of empowering her students.

“I think that the GCOM program is certainly something she should be remembered for,” Bowman said.

“In her classes she made it abundantly clear that after [she earned a] four-year university degree, she was in no way qualified to step out into the job market.

“She had this opportunity to see that other people didn’t have to suffer that (same fate.)

“She was passionate about the program and she wanted people to be ready to step into job entry once they graduated … ,” Bowman said.

VanSchuyver agrees.

“She could help students get jobs because she knew everybody in the industry,” she said.

VanSchuyver said it was a venture off campus that gave McDonald the insight she put to use in teaching.

“She had her own Graphic Communications business that she ran with a partner.

“She kept in touch with what the industry was doing and could make changes and suggestions.”

VanSchuyver said when students completed McDonald’s program, they were ready to enter the job market.

Bowman said she is living proof.

“She hired me, and she was my professor when I started going to school here  — and she created this job that I’m in,” she said.

VanSchuyver spoke of McDonald’s character as well.

“She was an interesting person to work with,” she said. “She had some quirks like we all do but we never had a disagreement that we couldn’t work out.

“She had kind of a gruff exterior but she was very warm-hearted and cared about people.”

Anderson said McDonald should be remembered for that.

“I think a lot of Lyn,” he said. “She’s great.”

VanSchuyver, Anderson and Bowman remained friends with McDonald after she left OCCC.

“We used to throw pots together,” Bowman said, referring to her pottery skills.

VanSchuyver said she and McDonald stayed in touch up through the day she died.

“We stayed in touch once she retired and I talked to her the day that she passed away.

“We really just said goodbye. She knew she was dying. She was ready by that time.

“She’d fought it. Maybe three weeks before, I talked to her and she was saying, ‘I’m going to get out of the hospital. I’m going to stop smoking. I’ve still got two or three months. I’m going to do these things,’” VanSchuyver said.

“But after she was in the hospital for a while and they just couldn’t get everything on the level and she started deteriorating, she just said ‘Ok. I’m ready and I just want to say goodbye to everybody’ and that’s what we did,.

“We just told each other that we appreciated each other and I appreciated all the things that she had done for me and we said goodbye.”

Bowman said McDonald maintained a lust for life and found ways to enjoy herself  and make people smile, even in her final days.

“Her last week in the hospital, she was pressing the doctor, ‘Do you think I’ll be out to make that poker tournament?’”

To contact Jorge Krzyzaniak, email

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