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1936 - 2020
July 30, 1936 ~ February 12, 2020
John "Lynn" Dougan, economist, educational activist, philosopher, philanthropist and mentor died on February 12 after very long and courageous battles with cancer. A gifted financial analyst, Lynn was an early entrepreneur in cable television, oil and gas exploration, and media technology. His abiding passions were family, politics, educational reform and mentoring others even until his final days. He died at his Coronado home with beloved family at his side.
A Utah native, Lynn was born in Salt Lake City on July 30, 1936, the elder son of J.L. "Mike" Dougan and Ellen Marriott Dougan. Ever energetic, industrious and adventurous, he started delivering newspapers after school at the age of 9. He continued after-school and summer jobs throughout his youth. From pitching hay and corralling horses on ranches in Wyoming, utility ditch digging in blistering southern Utah, or working as a meticulous surveyor's assistant in the mountains of Colorado, Lynn tackled whatever he did with dedication, curiosity and boyish fun.
Always in a hurry, Lynn enrolled in the University of Utah over a year before he even finished high school. He graduated with degrees in Economics and Philosophy. Already also a young Naval Reserve Officer, he immediately shipped out to Asia and then on special assignment in Saudi Arabia working with the Saudi Royal Navy. It was in Saudi where he learned to relish the unexpected. He easily learned the nonchalance of washing his hands in camels' urine before dinner meetings with Saudi officers. He also reveled in off-line adventures to unexpected places with his life-long Navy ski buddy, Dr. Will Ward. When their long dreamed of skiing trip to Europe was aborted by a crash landing in the Saudi desert, they still found humor and fun as they trekked across the scorching sand dunes. With their then ridiculously heavy seven-foot skis balanced on their young shoulders, they still managed to exchange cheery waves with awestruck camel drivers in the distance.
When Lynn returned to Utah after completing his Navy service in his early 20s, he quickly decided to focus on his interest in financial analytics and politics. When he attended his first Republican County Convention in the early 1960s, he was dismayed to learn the State Convention delegates had already been selected before the vote. So, he decided to go check out the Democratic Convention. His youthful energy and strategic intellect were apparently immediately welcomed with open arms. He soon became a major force on the Utah Democratic Party Steering Committee as a strategist, coalition builder and fundraiser for a diversity of candidates, including as Campaign Manager for Calvin Rampton's unprecedented third term election victory as Governor. Lynn remained active in Utah politics the rest of his life. Increasingly his focus was on mentoring young women and men dedicated to public service. Most recently he mentored Ben McAdams in Ben's successful 2018 upset Utah Congressional victory.
In the mid 1960's Lynn expanded his analysis and investments into the then embryonic and little noticed world of Cable TV. With the encouragement of two Utah media titans, Jack Gallivan and George Hatch, (who had themselves recently forayed into Cable TV), he bought and built up five small Cable TV companies in Colorado.
Fate took a turn in February 1968 when he attended the first National Conference on Closed Circuit and Cable TV, which happened to be hosted in Salt Lake City. George Hatch, then chairman of the powerful National Association of Broadcasters was the much-anticipated keynote luncheon speaker and had invited Lynn Dougan as his guest. As usual, Lynn was late. The ballroom of the historic Hotel Utah was already full. He spotted one empty seat. It was apparently next to the only female seated in the whole ballroom. When he rushed across to the chair, she explained the seat was taken. He sat down anyway.
Lynn discovered later, the winsome young lady was not just an attendee at this groundbreaking conference, but also a speaker. Moreover, as Director of Cable TV Marketing, she was the youngest executive (male or female) at the iconic "Fortune 500" media leader, Time Inc., (subsequently Time Warner). Her name was Diana Lady.
By the end of lunch, Lynn had half-convinced her to scrap her plans to go to Colorado on her way back to New York and instead discover the skiing charms of a place in Utah called Alta. Although a proud bachelor much longer than most of his friends, in the autumn of 1968, he convinced Diana to give up the career and life she loved in New York and become his wife and life-long partner in Utah.
When their children were born, Gavin (1970) and Elena (1973), the Dougans became totally pre-occupied with the wonderful challenges of parenthood. However, they each made room for pro-bono work in a diversity of community and public service endeavors. Diana, a Peabody Award winning television producer, served in pioneering roles in expanding innovative programs and financial resources for Public Broadcasting (PBS and NPR) at both the national and local levels. This included ten years as first Chairman of KUED's then pivotal independent external board and a number of years as a Director of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) appointed by both Republican and Democratic Presidents.
When Diana was asked by President Reagan in 1982 to take on a daunting new statutory position (with permanent rank of Ambassador) as the first United States Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, her immediate reaction was to turn it down. It would necessitate moving the family from Salt Lake City back to Washington D.C. However, it was Lynn who urged her to take this unique opportunity to make a strategic difference on a global scale - even though it involved extensive travel abroad overseeing treaty and bilateral negotiations and initiatives (which became strategic underpinnings to global access to the then embryonic Internet, mobile telephony, and other "information revolution" advances taken for granted today). Lynn cheerfully AND adeptly took on "Mr. Mom" roles he had never experienced before. And the whole family relished the unimaginable new opportunities and global perspectives that enriched the rest of their lives.
Published in Salt Lake Tribune from Mar. 22 to Mar. 29, 2020
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