IN MEMORY OF LYNN IKENBERRY
I am saddened to share the news that my father, Lynn Ikenberry, is no longer with us. He passed at home the day after Thanksgiving surrounded by the love of friends and family.
My father was one of EENP's most ardent supporters. This was born of personal connection as my partner and I founded EENP but became a passion that transcended family support. He and my mother Carolyn were one of EENP's very first Puppy Parent homes, raising Ansel who became one of EENP's first two placed dogs. They went on to help raise and train a number of EENP dogs, including Duncan, Worthy, Clay, Big B, Stevie, Oakley, and Bunn. When Bunn was released from training, he adopted her and cemented his surprising (to me) transition to a guy who wanted to take his dog everywhere.
Bunn was named for the town of Bunn, NC. My dad didn't name her, but it was a perfect name for his dog because Bunn is where his connection with EENP fully eclipsed being about family and came into its own. EENP's first prison dog training partnership (At Both Ends of the Leash, or ABEL) was with Franklin Correctional Center in Bunn, and dad became a regular volunteer in the program, where was dubbed "Mr. Lynn" by the incarcerated trainers.
For the ABEL trainers, Mr. Lynn was a gentle but solid presence, a father figure of sorts who saw them as fully human and worthy and accepted them where they were in that moment on their journey. At EENP we know that so much of dog training is really communication and understanding what dogs are telling us. Mr. Lynn helped the ABEL trainers also understand that their feelings were communicating something to them. Every person who is incarcerated is weighed down by grief, guilt, anger, sadness, or other complicated emotions. Mr. Lynn helped them understand that they did not need to deny their feelings, but learn to hear what their feelings were telling them about what they needed. He helped them understand that the emotion we feel is separate from the action we take. Mr. Lynn gave them tools to understand and process their emotions constructively.
It would be easy to assume that what my dad got from working with the ABEL trainers was an opportunity to serve, but in reality the gift the trainers gave him was much more profound. I don't think I fully understood it so I can't capture it adequately here, but it was rooted in the way his conversations with the ABEL trainers shifted his perspective and helped his thinking on emotions and relationships to evolve. He was never a person who was wowed by titles or the usual trappings of success, and that was powerful in his interactions with the ABEL trainers. Their outer appearance or place of residence was of no importance to him; his interest was in their inner life and he learned as much from them as he taught them.
Whatever the reason, he became an even more passionate advocate for EENP after we started the ABEL program in 2014. He was our "emergency volunteer" who would always help if we couldn't find someone else, whether it was keeping envelopes from jamming on a late night print job or making an unexpected run to prison to pick up a sick dog. He only missed an EENP graduation or ABEL leash ceremony if he was physically unable to attend. He joined the EENP board and surprised himself again by learning to ask people for money. He was a successful fundraiser not because he enjoyed asking, but because he believed so fully in the mission and work that he would ask anyhow. He had a whole wardrobe of EENP gear and fittingly he left the house for the last time wearing an EENP t-shirt. I think he was pleased that he went into the hereafter with EENP on his chest, and he would be equally pleased to know that his advocacy bore fruit even after his death. He would love for the people who loved him to contribute to the projects he was deeply passionate about but won't be able to see completed himself: finishing EENP's permanent home in Hillsborough, starting a third ABEL partnership, and restarting our work release program. Donations in his memory will be used to further the work he had invested so much of himself into.
Thank you for being a part of his life and his story, and thank you for caring about him.
November 29, 2020
Make a Donation in Lynn's Memory
Donations made in Lynn's memory will be used to support the programs and work closest to his heart, including supporting and expanding the ABEL program and completing work on EENP's permanent home in Hillsborough. You can leave a note for the family with your donation. Thank you for your tribute to Lynn.
Share a Memory of Lynn
The family is gathering memories of Lynn which will be permanently housed on a website for the family and others to return to over time. This site is intended to be a repository of the memories that capture who Lynn was for each of us who was touched by him. You are invited to share favorite memories or photos on that site if you feel so called.
A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, May 1, 2021 at 2 pm with a rain date of Sunday, May 2. It will be streamed online.