Lynch family history mirrors Bradley's

FRAN LYNCH RECTOR ’39 presented the Lynch mirror to Bradley in 1981. Henry Lynch, her grandfather, received the pier mirror in appreciation of his service as mayor at the turn of the century. Also shown is a bust of William Rainey Harper, the first president of Bradley’s faculty. Fran’s mother, HAZEL COOPER LYNCH, 1912, was Harper’s cousin and grew up in his Chicago home.

When Hazel Cooper enrolled at Bradley in September 1911, she was more familiar with the Institute than many of her peers in Chicago. Hazel had grown up in the home of her cousin, William Rainey Harper, president of Bradley’s faculty and founding president of the University of Chicago. Before arriving at Bradley to study domestic economy, Hazel, or “Coopie” as she was known the rest of her life, had studied for two years at Frances Shimer College in Mount Carroll, a college also supported by Harper.

In December 1912, HAZEL COOPER LYNCH, 1912 and RALPH LYNCH, 1905 were married in the Harper home in Chicago. Ralph’s father, Henry Lynch, was a prominent coal dealer and the postmaster in Peoria. In 1899, just two years after Bradley’s founding, he was elected mayor of the city. 

Ralph’s brother, HAROLD LYNCH, 1908, later served his alma mater as a Bradley Trustee. Harold’s wife, IRENE LIDLE LYNCH, 1909, and Coopie were sorority sisters, both members of Lambda Phi.

After living in Colorado for several years, Coopie and Ralph returned to Peoria with their newborn daughter, Frances. The family lived on Moss Avenue, just a few doors from Washington School, the elementary school Frannie and her younger brother Bill attended. It was only natural that she would enroll at Bradley and, like her mother and aunt, pledge Lambda Phi. Frannie served as chapter president her senior year. 

Now living in Florida, 94-year-old FRANCES LYNCH RECTOR ’39 has a keen memory of her family’s life and her own days at Bradley. She knows the exact location of the William Rainey Harper residence. “It was 5728 Woodlawn Avenue in Chicago,” Frannie says, and goes on to describe the family’s life. “Sam and Paul (Harper’s sons) were like brothers to my mother.” 

Other recollections are from the ’30s: pork tenderloins at Hunt’s, drinking Cokes and meeting friends at Gibbie’s drugstore, junior prom at the Inglaterra ballroom, and the annual stunt show at Bradley. It’s been more than 70 years, but she still wonders about the identity of Algernon, an anonymous gossip columnist in the student newspaper. Frannie recalls driving to campus daily and sometimes riding the Rocket (passenger train) to Chicago to watch the “Famous Five” play basketball. “My mother would go along with us. She always chaperoned for Lambda Phi events. She was very active.”

In 1947 when Bradley’s local sororities and fraternities affiliated with national Greek organizations, Coopie was instrumental in petitioning Pi Beta Phi to make Lambda Phi its newest Pi Phi chapter. One of Fran’s two daughters is currently active in Pi Beta Phi in Texas. Not unlike her own mother and daughters, Fran is active, too. She enjoys PEO and bridge, and drives to the same weekly volunteer job at a food bank she has worked for the past 26 years. In 1981, she donated the Lynch family mirror to Bradley. Her grandfather received the ornate Victorian pier mirror in 1900 in appreciation of his service to the city.

— Gayle Erwin McDowell ’77







William Rainey Harper, President of Bradley’s faculty

University president

ALBERT WALKER, MA ’70 MA ’76 became president of Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis in October. Previously, Albert was president of Bluefield State College in West Virginia since 2002. He has held a number of teaching and administrative roles in education, including as a teacher and principal in Peoria District 150. He also worked as vice president for academic affairs at Harris-Stowe and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Elizabeth City State University and Kentucky State University. Albert holds a doctorate from Indiana University. He and his wife Kulwinder live in St. Louis.