Lynne Alona (Channer) Mitchell was born on June 20, 1947, in Round Hill, St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, to the late Emmanuel Channer and Amy Channer. Lynne was the sixth of twelve children born to her parents. Where her family lacked in financial wealth, they made up for with an abundant amount of love for each other. As a child, Lynne was loving and kind. She was always looking out for her younger brothers and sisters. She was intelligent and quick witted as a child and most of the time when all the children were playing, Lynne would be reading or studying. Lynne’s hard work paid off when she earned a teaching degree at the age of 15. In 1962, she began her teaching career at Seaview Primary School in Southfield, St. Elizabeth where she taught the Third Grade.
Career & Travel
In January 1963, while still teaching at Seaview Primary School, Lynne met and fell in love with her future husband, Basil Mitchell. The two began courting and after Basil got a job at Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation and moved to Kingston, Lynne pursued her studies further in Kingston and eventually got a job teaching Home Economics at Tivoli Gardens Comprehensive High School. Lynne and Basil got married and the union produced two children, Gary and Marlene. In 1972, Lynne left Jamaica to join Basil in Boston, Massachusetts and went to school to pursue a degree in Hospitality Management.
In 1974, the couple returned to Jamaica where Lynne became the Executive Director of Housekeeping at the Inter-Continental Hotel in Rose Hall. In 1978, after a competitive application process, Lynne was one of 3 candidates in Jamaica selected for a full two-year scholarship for a Hospitality Management Program at Carl Duisberg Gessellschaft in Munich, Germany. While studying in Germany, Lynne became fluent in German. After completing her course of study, Lynne rejoined her family in Chicago in 1980 where she continued to work in the hotel industry. Over the next 32 years, Lynne became not only a strong and effective people-leader; she also enjoyed an excellent reputation for running best in class housekeeping departments. As a result, Lynne was known and sought after as one of the hotel industry’s best Executive Director of Housekeeping. She ran the Housekeeping Departments of major luxurious and some legendary hotels, including the St. Regis Sheraton in Manhattan, The Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Loews Miami Beach Hotel, the JW Marriott Miami, The Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa and the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino both in Hollywood, Florida. During this time, Lynne received many accolades and earned a tremendous amount of love and respect from her staff and co-workers. “Miss Lynne” as she was often called, became a “second mother,” “encourager,” “counselor,” “mentor,” and “best friend” to many on her staff. She was a quiet force with a big heart and many on her staff felt that working with her had a hugely positive and rewarding impact on their lives.
Words From Lynne's Staff
“A boss that stands out above all bosses.”
“Someone who comes to work everyday and willing to help anyone in need of help.”
“She does not put herself above her employees and is willing to always lend a helping hand whenever it is needed. Her willingness to create the best possible working atmosphere for her workers, [is] my most prized memory of her.”
“I will always remember how she always had time to listen to what we had to say and always offered good advice.”
“She has a very good heart."
Lynne was also a devoted grandmother. Her face lit up when she told stories of the latest antics of her two beloved grandsons, CJ and Zachary. Lynne’s son, Gary and his wife Maricela welcomed a new baby boy, Cameron, just 6 months after Lynne passed away. Though Lynne did not get to meet Cameron, she was very pleased when she heard of his impending arrival. Lynne was an exceptional daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, niece, godmother and friend. She constantly gave of herself to her family and friends, whether it be advice, financial support, words of wisdom, a shoulder to cry on, you name it, she was there – always reliable, trustworthy and true. She enjoyed talking on the phone with her family and friends and traveling with them. Though not the oldest child for her parents, Lynne became the family matriarch and was highly respected by all her siblings and extended family. “Sister Lynne” as she was respectfully known would do whatever was necessary to ensure that her family remained cohesive and strong. She always instilled in the family the importance of “sticking together and taking care of each other.” Lynne was well known for her culinary and baking skills and being invited to her home for a home-cooked meal was an invitation that was always readily accepted.
In May 2010, after two years of becoming increasingly ill, many doctor’s appointments and hospitalizations, Lynne was diagnosed with Familial Amyloidosis, a rare and life-threatening genetic disorder. At this point, her illness was already taking a huge physical toll and she was reluctantly forced to stop working. Lynne was also forced to stop baking the dozens and dozens of Christmas cakes she did each year for all her family and friends --- though she did so up to one year prior even when her illness began to take a toll and doing so truly was a labor of love. On January 9, 2011, accompanied by her sister Zeneth Bromfield, her niece, Paulette Allen and her daughter, Marlene Gordon, Lynne relocated from Miramar, Florida to Rochester, MN. Lynne patiently waited each day for that phone call from doctors at the Mayo Clinic that would inform her that a matching donor had been found for the new heart and liver her failing body so desperately needed. During her months of waiting, she occupied her time communicating with family and friends on the phone, via email and had constant doctor visits. She enjoyed the frequent visits of her daughter Marlene, as well as visits from friends and relatives, including her son, Gary, her grandson, CJ, her friends Dorothy Phillips and Evelyn Gardner and her nephew Deon Clark. She was also cared for in Rochester by her sister, Zeneth Bromfield, her cousin, Jean Nesbeth, her niece, Dian McFarlane, her niece, Debbie Lettman and a woman who became instant family, Maxine Williams.
The nine months of waiting took an even further toll on her body as her health continued to deteriorate. Armed with her strong faith in God, Lynne with her weakened body walked into Mayo Clinic’s St. Mary’s Hospital at 7:00 p.m. on the night of October 5, 2011 after she received the long awaited call that a matching donor had been found for her. Her transplant surgeries began in the wee hours of the morning of October 6, 2011. Post transplant, Lynne suffered and endured many major and life-threatening set backs and spent 9 months in the hospital (5 of them in the Intensive Care Unit and at least 2 of those months on life-support). Lynne’s daughter, Marlene Gordon, kept a constant vigil by her bedside supported by a vast outpouring of prayers and love from Lynne’s son, daughter-in-law, siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins, other family members, and friends from all corners of the globe -- too numerous to mention. It is conceivable that during this time no other person on earth was prayed for more than Lynne.
Lynne’s strong determination, never-ending support from her family, doctors, nurses and the myriad of other staff at Mayo Clinic’s St. Mary’s Hospital, and more importantly, the never-ending grace, mercy and unfailing love of her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, brought Lynne to the momentous occasion when on June 20, 2012 (her 65th birthday), she was able to leave St. Mary’s hospital and board a plane (albeit wheelchair-bound) accompanied by her daughter, Marlene Gordon and caregiver, Maxine Williams and return home to Miramar, Florida. When she arrived at Miami International Airport, as she was embraced by her daughter Marlene, Lynne whispered to Marlene with tears in her eyes, “I love you, thank you for everything.” Lynne was grateful for the opportunity to be back in her home and more importantly to reunite with family and friends. She never however got the opportunity to enjoy her life. Still physically debilitated, wheelchair bound, dialysis dependent and unable to walk or take care of herself, Lynne concealed her tears, but continued to share her smiles. She fought the good fight up to the end, never complaining and never wanting to be a burden.
On Wednesday, September 26, 2012, after a routine check up with her doctor, Lynne was rushed to the hospital and admitted into the Intensive Care Unit. Diagnosed with severe pneumonia in her lungs and a bacterial infection in her bloodstream, Lynne’s frail, immunosuppressed body was unable to fight any longer. And so it was that at 4:35 pm on September 27, 2012, Lynne, traveled peacefully into the arms of her Heavenly Father, with her children and other family members and friends by her bedside, leaving all her pain and sorrow behind. One of God’s greatest gifts to earth returned to her Creator to hear Him say, “Well Done My Good and Faithful Servant.” Lynne was a virtuous woman, proud, independent, loving, feisty, hardworking, and courageous. She will always be remembered for that wonderful smile that lit up a room, her exquisite beauty, both inside and out, her big heart that overflowed with love and compassion for everyone she encountered, and her strong faith and upstanding character. To know her was not only to love her but to also be loved by her.
Many celebrate her life and her legacy will live on in the lives of those she touched. Lynne's body was laid to rest (right next to her mother Amy) in Round Hill, St. Elizabeth, Jamaica in the Channer Family Memorial Garden.