Maureen “Twink” Lynch of Topeka passed away Sunday, November 18, 2018.
Maureen Canfield, daughter of Austin F. (Sr.) and Gertrude (MacBride) Canfield, was born May 8, 1934 in Washington, D.C. Maureen, who at the age of two was nicknamed Twink by her father, graduated from the Academy of the Holy Cross, Washington, D.C., in 1951. She obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre and Drama (1955) and a Master’s Degree in Speech Therapy (1961) from Catholic University in Washington, D.C. and a Master’s Degree in Theatre (1971) and a special interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Community Theatre Management (1981), the first of its kind, from the University of Kansas.
On November 26, 1960, Twink was united in marriage to John A. Lynch, M.D., at the Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament in Chevy Chase, D.C. They relocated to Topeka in 1963.
At the age of eight, Twink started her career in theatre. A voracious reader and creative writer, she avidly wrote and produced neighborhood plays as a child and won the District of Columbia’s One-Act Play Tournament as a teenager in 1948, 1949 and 1951, tackling significant social issues in the scripts she wrote. As a young adult in the D.C. area, she continued directing and acting in scores of productions, inspiring and organizing those around her to participate.
Upon moving to Topeka, she immediately connected with its burgeoning theatre community. Shortly thereafter, she involved herself in the behind-the-scenes activities at the Topeka Civic Theatre. She subsequently performed literally every possible role at TCT (now TCTA) from actress to director to fundraiser to administrative director to board member (and other roles with no name), diligently studying and sometimes formally educating herself as necessary to serve those roles well. Notably, in 1974, she chaired the capital campaign to fund TCT’s first permanent home, the Warehouse on the Levee. In the late 1990s, she served as chair of the steering committee to fundraise for and supervise the renovation of Gage School into TCTA’s current home. Without a doubt, Twink was one of the driving forces behind TCTA becoming the vibrant, nationally-recognized community theatre it is today.
Twink’s professional life evolved beyond TCTA. She was a national consultant and workshop leader in boardsmanship, long range planning and volunteer management in community theatre and she served in multiple leadership roles at the state and national levels, including as executive director of the Association of Kansas Theatre and president of the American Association for Community Theatre. She also extended her local volunteer efforts to, among other organizations, the United Way, the Chamber of Commerce and the YMCA.
Believing the performing arts to be one of the most important elements of the human experience, Twink devoted her life to making good theatre accessible to all and, in the process, influenced many people to do the same. She often acknowledged the pivotal role of mentors in her professional development and, in return, she mentored countless others. For her remarkable contributions to the growth of community theatre locally and nationally, Twink was honored in many ways. She received the Governor’s Arts Award (1995) for her contributions to the development of community theatre in the State of Kansas and the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Nonprofit Leadership Award (2008) for her contributions to the advancement of philanthropy in the Topeka community. She was elected into the Halls of Fame of AKT and TCTA and was honored by AACT with several awards, the most recent of which was the prestigious Special Recognition Award (2014) for contributions that were far-reaching and of a special nature. In 2018, she received the Paul Harris Fellow Award by the Topeka Rotary Club for service to her community. In ultimate tribute, both TCTA and AACT have established annual awards in her name.
Twink would be the first to say she had the great fortune to lead a wonderful and fulfilling life, cultivating extraordinary friendships along the way. She was kind, generous, genuine, optimistic, committed, tireless, passionate, intelligent, motivating and resilient. Behind the curtain and above all else, she was a loving and supportive wife, mother and grandmother who will be dearly missed by her family.
Twink is survived by her children, Mark (Mary) Lynch, Stilwell, KS; Dr. Christopher (Kim) Lynch, Shawnee, KS; Dr. Nancy Lynch, San Mateo, CA; Dr. Gregory (Tiffany) Lynch, Mission Hills, KS; her grandchildren, Brenna, Ryan and Michael Lynch; Parker, Aidan and Garrett Lynch; Haley, Anne, Paige and Jack Lynch; and her siblings, Gertrude (Canfield) Cavanaugh, Towson, MD, and Richard Canfield, New Smyrna Beach, FL.
She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband and her siblings, Austin F. Canfield, Jr., Joan (Canfield) Kennedy and J. Douglas Canfield.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, December 1, 2018, at Most Pure Heart of Mary Catholic Church, Topeka. Interment will follow at Mount Calvary Cemetery, Topeka. Twink will lie in state after 4:00 p.m. Friday, November 30, 2018, at Penwell-Gabel Mid-Town Chapel, Topeka, where the family will greet friends from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Memorial contributions may be given in Twink’s name to Topeka Civic Theatre & Academy, 3028 SW 8th Avenue, Topeka, KS 66606.
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