A talented dancer
Lynette Garland has always reminded friends and family of a First Lady: reserved, private, polished, more a listener than a storyteller. But get her on a dance floor, and she’d steal the show. She’d so captivate male ballroom dance partners with her elegance and skill that she’d always have them lining up for a spin when she went out, usually to the Willowbrook Ballroom in Willow Springs, Illinois. In dancing, she shone. And it wasn’t just because of the eye-catching dresses she loved to wear -- her most memorable a bare-shouldered, floor-length affair with sparkling red sequins all over and a slit right up to her thigh. Throughout her many decades, Lynette has imbued her life with style, movement and art. She grew up in Portage Park, Illinois, the older child of Ethel and Paul, a milkman. She had a brother, Paul, who was 18 months younger. With her best friend, Mae, whom she had known since first grade, Lynette was always on the move, as the two would roller-skate together through their neighborhood.
Loss of her husband and work as a secretary
Just as Lynette made an impression on her dance partners, she also enthralled her husband, Jimmy, who sent her a dozen red roses every week while they were dating. After they married, to afford a house, Jimmy worked jobs at the Department of Streets and Sanitation and as a bartender. He died in 1966, when their daughter, Patty, was twelve. With no life insurance, Lynette had to continue working full time as an executive secretary. She sometimes struggled to make ends meet , but through overcoming those obstacles, she and Patty became close friends. At home, Lynette’s pride and joy – after Patty – was her garden, especially her rosebushes. Sometimes she would garden with her neighbor, Eva Filko, who had lived next door with her husband, Frank, since the 1960s. She also developed a close group of friends through attending St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Park Ridge, Illinois.
She still has a lot of style and dance in her life
Later in life, while she never skied herself, Lynette loved going on yearly ski trips to Wisconsin with Patty and her cousins. And she traveled around the world, too -- to Europe occasionally, and in 1999 on a luxurious cruise through the Panama Canal with Patty and other family. Among the national parks, Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons were favorites. She even rode a camel in Morocco. In her 90s, Lynette stayed true to form, holding onto style and dance in her life. In 2005, she bought a stylish, yellow Mini Cooper Sport car and delighted in cruising in it, only giving it up when she was almost 95. And her ballroom days never left her. She loved few things more than catching musicals and tap dance shows any time she could at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, Illinois.