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Technically, Joe Tynan’s first summer at Lake Tippecanoe was in 1944. He tells the story of how his mother, pregnant with Joe at the time, swam with him in the lake. “You were here before you were born,” she told her son.
“And I’ve been here every summer of my entire life since.”
The Tynans lived in Indianapolis but returned to Tippy each summer to visit friends, the Ricards. “The day school got out, the car was loaded up!” Joe remembers. In 1952, his parents purchased the Ricard cottage, and that cottage continues to be the central gathering place for the extended Tynan clan ever since.
For Joe, life at the lake is about family.
“We grew up, brothers and sisters, on the lake, together all the time. We’re extremely well-connected,” Joe says. Something about the sunshine and water made it easy to get along. “Even if you’re mad as hell, you can jump in the water, and all of a sudden you’re calm,” he muses. “You cool down–physically and mentally.” The lake made it easy to play together too. Whether skiing, swimming, or putting around in their 3-horsepower wooden boat, the Tynan kids had freedom. “Mom would feed us breakfast, and then we’d be gone. We had to be home for dinnertime,” Joe remembers. “It was a glorious life. And the kids we see here on the lake have the same glorious childhood.”
Joe spent his 40-year career first at General Electric, then in business turnarounds, moving around the country with his wife, Nancy, and their two children, Andrew and Sam. The Tynans kept a house in Indianapolis, but every summer, the family cottage drew them back to the lake. In 1982, when the opportunity came to sell their house in Indy and buy a cottage of their own on Tippy, they took it, eventually tearing the place down to build a year-round home in 2007.
That was when Joe, already an active member of the LTPO, became involved with The Watershed Foundation. “I saw what [TWF] was trying to do,” Joe says. “You go to the source of the problem, and you fix it.” TWF had good ideas and great people, but the organization needed capital. “You can’t do anything without money. After four or five meetings, I stepped up and said, ‘I think I could help.’”
As a board member, Joe focused his efforts on fundraising, relationship-building, and financial oversight. Thanks in part to his leadership and energetic support, TWF was able to expand its capacity and conservation efforts across the watershed. Last December, after 12 years of service, Joe stepped down from the Board of Directors. He remains active as both a supporter and a donor and envisions a day when TWF will have the resources to make an even greater impact.
These days, Joe and Nancy spend their winters in Florida, but every summer, they return to their lake house, where they enjoy treasured time with their children and grandchildren and with their Tippy community. They enjoy hosting cocktail parties to support TWF, helping connect people to the work of protecting our land and water. Joe encourages everyone to spend even a little time learning about our watershed, about what TWF does and why they do it. If everyone understood the work, he says, then everyone would support it. “It’s just that important for their families and for the next generation.
Give what you can.”
Reflecting on his years of service, Joe says, “I’ve had a spectacular time. Watching the growth of this organization is just phenomenal. I wouldn’t change a second. It’s been worth it.”