Thursday, December 18, 2014

Always a Friend

It's starting to get too close, people I know well, and now someone my age, starting to fall. Word came today that my law school roommate and later the best man at my wedding, Guy Blynn, collapsed of what turned out to be a pulmonary embolism and never regained consciousness. We had stayed in touch the way old friends and comrades do, but it had often been a year or so between get-togethers.  Nevertheless, it was like old times when we did see each other.

In recent years, the occasion usually was sitting as judges on a moot court for Guy's son Dan's legal writing class at George Washington Univ. law school, where my wife also continues to teach as an adjunct.  Guy was his old self on this bench, only mildly terrorizing first-year law students during oral argument, for their own good, as it always was broadcast to us from our own law school days.

Guy really was cut out to be a lawyer.  He became interested in trademark law right out of law school, when starting out at a big New York firm. His moving to Winston-Salem and going to work for RJR made seeing him less frequent but he became well-known in the trademark bar. He was a Stephen Colbert before his time, often taking a conservative position on anything for the sake of argument and yes, at the time, he probably even believed some of it.

When I heard of his death, I started googling him and so much more emerged. His enthusiasm for sports I of course knew--going back to his days as sports editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian and wrestling manager at Penn. I'm a sucker for most sports--at least once--and he dragged me to wrestling meets at Harvard and left me with an appreciation for the fine points and those who love the sport, such as author John Irving. He also put up with my mediocrity on the squash court when we meet at prime time--lunch hour--only because he had bothered to give the desk guys a bottle of scotch at Christmas so we got on as Harvard Law professors stood by and wondered how those guys rated.

But now I learned that he had contributed a major collection of Holocaust materials to Forsyth Technical Community College where the Blynn Holocaust Collection resides. He chaired a committee that apparently was formed by the mayor of Winston-Salem to examine the fairness of a criminal proceeding and recommended that the defendant, convicted by a jury, be set free after 15 years in prison despite the local judge's having denied habeas based on untimely filing of the motion.

He was a benefactor of the arts in Winston-Salem and I recall his telling me he had acquired half of a season's ticket to Arsenal, the football club in north London to which I have always been partial. I once told him I'd meet him over there for a match and regret that we never got to do that. His three sons have all turned out fine. 

Many people who knew him or knew me would ask how he could represent tobacco, or as Guy inimitably put it, "I'm the guy (Guy?) who keeps the world safe for Joe Camel." That was part of Guy--and if you accept the view that everyone is entitled to be represented, which I generally do, that was his choice to live with.  Guy used to come up and see us and tell everyone that they hadn't proven that smoking was harmful--but then he had stopped smoking himself.

He had a real zest for life. I think I liked him partly because I could put up with his needling--which was amazingly similar to the same trait practiced by my father.  I met his dad once, and he was the same way. What was even more amazing was that we first met when I was in high school in Mt. Vernon, attending the New York State Key Club convention where Guy was running for the highest office, Governor. He didn't win, despite the efforts of the mighty Long Island bloc, which was overwhelmed by the mightier Upstaters. But as always, he made a lasting impression.

His last e-mail to me was about a month ago, asking the derivation of  Fenno, a humor column in the Harvard Law Record I had inherited from who knows how many predecessors (going back to the ancient days of 1946, I believe). "I'm doing well for someone almost 70 (yikes!!!!)   travelling a bunch since the kids are in good places to visit:  denver, miami and...d.c.," he related. 

Good-bye, Blynner--you were truly one of a kind.

1 comment:

  1. What sad news. I counted Guy among my friends in law school, and we kept in touch episodically afterwards. He was someone I looked forward to seeing at our next reunion this coming year. I'll miss him.