Those touched by Linns reflect on quiet, unassuming couple

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Susan Shinn
D.C. Linn was a builder.
Not only did he build structures, he built community. Health care, higher education, the arts, preservation and recreation have all benefitted from the lives of D.C. Linn and his wife, Frances.
But you won’t find a D.C. Linn Branch of the Rowan County YMCA, or the D.C. and Frances Linn Patient Tower at Rowan Regional Medical Center.
Linn absolutely would not hear of it, according to those who worked with him on myriad projects.
The county has lost a quiet, unassuming couple who touched many lives through their work out of the limelight.
Linn died Saturday from injuries in a car accident near Hickory. Frances Linn, his wife of 57 years, died early Wednesday morning.
The couple never sought attention, but D.C. Linn left his mark in Salisbury and in Landis, where the couple made their home.
His career was in construction. He was a former chairman of the board of directors at Rowan Regional Medical Center, and he was a founding director of the South Rowan YMCA.
He served on the building and grounds committee of Catawba College’s board of directors, and played a vital role in the restoration of Salisbury Station.
“I think he was one of the unsung heroes of Rowan County,” Fred Corriher said Wednesday. Corriher and Linn were cousins.
“He did things in a very unassuming way,” Corriher said. “He was a very, very dedicated member in that fundraising effort for the South Rowan YMCA.”
The South Y is named for Corriher.
Linn worked on building projects at Catawba during Corriher’s tenure as president.
“He was very instrumental in helping us go through the technical sides of our construction projects,” Corriher said.
Ed Clement echoed Corriher’s comments.
In 1993, Linn received the Clement Cup for being the “indispensable person” in the depot restoration.
A modest Linn said at the time, “So many people have done so much that I can’t believe I would be singled out to receive this.”
But he was the man.
“He led the effort and was in charge of one of the major phases of the Salisbury Depot restoration,” Clement, founder of Historic Salisbury Foundation, said Wednesday. “He did a terrific job using his vast experience and knowledge. The success of the station is due in large part to D.C. Linn.”
Clement continued, “He was one of the most outstanding businesspeople I have known in that he had a unique ability to get things done in a smooth way.
“It wasn’t about him. It was about the project. It was about what he could do for the community.”
Clement remembered Frances Linn as “a wonderful person. She was so supportive and helpful and friendly and vivacious. They were a wonderful couple.”
Jamie Morgan agreed. Morgan is CEO of the Rowan County YMCA and was the second executive director of the South Rowan YMCA.
“He was involved in the very beginning of even the thought of having a Y in southern Rowan County,” Morgan said Wednesday.
Linn served on the South Y’s two capital campaigns, as well as on the most recent campaign for the Frank Tadlock Splash Pad.
“He has just been Mr. YMCA for the last 30 years,” Morgan said. “I don’t have the words to say how much he has meant to this organization.”
Yet there is no D.C. Linn branch.
Because he wanted it that way, Morgan said, calling Linn a “quiet, humble person.”
“He definitely did not want any of the recognition.”
Frances Linn came with her husband to many of the report meetings and celebrations of the Y’s successes, Morgan said. “They were a team. She was definitely supportive of his work and his commitment to the community.”
Jim Freeman, the medical center’s former CEO, said he thought the world of Linn.
“The sun rises and sets on him,” Freeman said Wednesday. “He did so much to bring quality into the building process. That was his contribution.
“His strength was in construction and building. Nobody could touch it.”
But he didn’t want his name on anything ó not so much as a broom closet.
“He wouldn’t have anything to do with it,” Freeman said. “He did his thing behind the scenes.”
As Linn served as a supporter for many projects, Freeman said, Frances Linn was her husband’s supporter.
“She was always there,” Freeman said. “Quiet, but supportive and always present.”
Corriher noted that in Linn’s retirement years, the couple loved to travel.
“They went on some cruises and they just did a lot of fun things, which delighted me because he was such a workhorse,” Corriher said.
Ronnie Smith, who served with Linn on the hospital board, remembered him as a gentleman ó one with a dry sense of humor.
The Linns traveled often with daughter Susan Norvell and her husband, Ed, and with daughter Ellen Messinger and her husband, Tim.
“But I don’t pack a whole lot,” Linn told Smith. “I take my old underwear with me. I wear it, then I throw it away.”