Photos by Deny Howeth.

Anne Lynam 

Mother, Mogul & Matriarch 

The Picture of Grit and Grace

Preferring to take the steps instead of the elevator, at 90 years old, Anne Lynam is the picture of grit and grace. She is a loving Mother, a savvy business Mogul and the Lynam family Matriarch. A woman who didn’t think twice about trying her hand at business and real estate while her husband founded and ran a separate entrepreneurial endeavor, and together raising 5 children in Rehoboth Beach. Her last name, Lynam, may look familiar, as you’ve most likely seen it on the side of the iconic royal blue umbrellas adorning the beaches in Rehoboth for the past 85 years.

Dick Lynam

In 1939, her husband, Richard “Dick” Lynam, founded the popular beach umbrella and chair concession at just 12 years old.  It started as any modern-day kids’ lemonade stand would, and he set up shop at Baltimore Avenue and Rehoboth Avenue. “To give him a job, his older sister gave him some money and sent him to the Hardware Store, The Treasure Chest, to buy umbrellas and chairs to rent in front of his family’s rooming house,” Anne explained. Dick’s family ran The Marlyn Guest House, a small seaside inn/guesthouse, on the Boardwalk at Baltimore Avenue. Not named after the Marlin sailfish, instead, it was affectionately named after Dick’s mother Margaret Lynam (the first three letters of her first and last name—Mar-Lyn.) “His mother had girls in college and wanted to help,” Anne explained. “During the depression, it wasn’t uncommon for women to be out working to help their families.” As the youngest of six kids, and well into the Great Depression, Dick found a way to occupy his time on the beach and financially help his family. His business grew to be so popular that he continued it every summer after. “Even at 18, when he was drafted in WWII and went off to Panama, his father kept it going for him,” Anne said. As the war ended, Dick knew he needed to pursue a career that would allow him to have his summers off.  He studied at Michigan State University to become a teacher. Yet, each summer, he came back to Rehoboth Beach and ran his popular umbrella concession stand on the beach. 

“I’m not really a retirement kind of girl”

The Two Shall Meet

It wasn’t until the summer before his senior year at Michigan State that Dick met Anne, and a summer romance at its finest ensued. Anne had just graduated high school in Harrington, Delaware and was spending the summer with her older sister, Kitty. Kitty is a Rehoboth Beach legend as well, who turned 100 in 2023, becoming a local centenarian. Rehoboth Beach officials issued a proclamation that July 7th would be known as “Kitty T. Cole Day” in Rehoboth Beach.  Anne tagged along with her older sister to the local Soda Fountain hang-out called Snyder’s at 60 Rehoboth Ave. Today Snyder’s Candy store is still in operation there, and while under different ownership, maintains the legacy name and location. “At the time my sister’s boyfriend, [eventually her husband] was a lifeguard and all the kids would hang out at Snyder’s,” Anne said. “You could get a coke for 5 cents.”  It was the summer of 1952, and Anne recalls being 18 and meeting Dick, who she called “the umbrella boy,” she says with a wide smile. “I recognized him from the beach, and we got to chatting. He invited my friend and I to the Lifeguard Pink House, a popular place, where they had bonfires.” Anne said that when she accepted the invitation, she noticed Dick was nervous and unable to provide details. Later she’d find out Dick made up the plans in an attempt to impress her, but when the bonfire ceased to commence, Dick ended up just throwing a football with a friend in front of Anne’s house. “I didn’t want to play football, I wanted to go out, and my friend and I already made other plans to go to the Country Club,” Anne explains about her quick pivot in plans and ultimately standing him up. “I wasn’t going to sit home,” Anne recalls with a smile. So, despite their rocky start, Anne and Dick met once again at Snyder’s Soda Fountain, and this time, he ditched the elaborate plans and just asked to walk her home. “We started going together after that, and the rest is history,” Anne recalled with a gentle smile. 

Marriage and Family

After that summer, Anne started nursing school at Jefferson University and Dick returned to Michigan State, but they stayed in touch and quickly realized they didn’t want to be apart. Anne and Dick were married in January of 1953, just months after meeting on the beach. “My parents soon overcame the shock, and they liked him,” Anne said of her quick engagement. “I did have to leave nursing school though; they had rules back then that you couldn’t be married in nursing school or be married living in the dorms. I don’t remember exactly, but it made it so I couldn’t complete my nursing degree.” So, Anne packed up and moved back to Michigan with her new husband Dick, for his last semester in college. When asked if she regretted not being able to finish nursing school, Anne laughed, “NO! I was far too sentimental,” she said with a wave of her hand, “it was for the best.” By June of 1953, Anne, and new college graduate Dick, moved to Rehoboth Beach full time. “I always loved Delaware and we knew we’d be back,” she said. Anne helped Dick that summer with the concession stand. At this point, he already had 14 years of sweat equity into his summer business venture, Lynam Beach Services. “We didn’t relax or sit too much; we enjoyed our one-hour lunch break a day,” she laughed. She explained that surfing wasn’t very popular then, but that they used to rent rubber rafts, “we’d go way out and ride the waves in” she smiled. They wasted no time growing their family, and had their first child, Richard F. Lynam Jr., later in 1953. 

Expanding Roles and Responsibilities

The following summer, in 1954, Dick’s mother Margaret wanted to step back from running The Marlyn Guest House, and so Anne, with her 1-year-old son in tow, and her sister-in-law Bobbie Tindall, who had three children of her own, took over the responsibility of managing and running the 10-bedroom guest house. Having watched her mother always work, Anne had the confidence to try her hand as a working mom. “My mother was the same kind of person as me, and during the depression everyone had to work,” Anne explains. As a young girl she watched her mother run a restaurant and then she rented rooms to men building the Indian River Inlet Bridge. Having come from tough, determined women, Anne bravely stepped into the role to help with The Marlyn Guest House.  It wasn’t easy for women to work, but Bobbie and Anne helped each other. “We were like one big family,” she said. “Bobbie and I took turns going to the beach with the kids and cooking the meals, while the other went to work, and then we’d switch.” This rhythm allowed Dick to continue to focus on the concession stand and Anne to maintain the Lynam family property management company that started with Dick’s mother. In the off-season, Dick would return to teaching, first industrial arts (shop) and then primarily Math, (he continued this for 28 years). Meanwhile, he and Anne continued to expand their family. In 1958 they welcomed their second son, William T. Lynam. That year The Marlyn Guest House grew as well. They moved locations to Olive Street, but carried the name with them, and expanded to 21 bedrooms. 

Sadly however, In the summer of 1961, Bobbie fell ill, and was unable to help Anne run The Marlyn Guest House. She passed away just one year later in 1962. “That was a hard summer,” Anne said. Thankfully, her other sister-in-law, Jane, stepped up to help Anne manage and run The Marlyn Guest House that summer. However, by the time the off-season came in 1962, Anne gave birth to their third son, Robert B. Lynam. With three kids in tow now, and reeling from the loss of Bobbie, they decided to sell the The Marlyn Guest House business. 

This, however, was not the end of Anne’s property management and real estate endeavors. By the summer of 1962 she and Dick bought a vacant lot in Rehoboth, just one block from the beach, and started construction on a building which would house five apartments. This time, they would not only own the business, but also the building. While Dick was teaching and running Lynam Beach Services, Anne oversaw construction and development. “The top 3 apartments were 2 bedrooms and 1 bath with porches” she explains. “Then the bottom oceanside apartment was 2 bedroom and 2 baths.” She and Dick reserved the bottom apartment for their growing family, “We lived on the bottom lakeside apartment, which was 3 bedrooms, and 2 baths.” They named the building Lake Shore Apartments. 

In 1964 they welcomed their 4th son, John David Lynam. They quickly found out that 4 boys in an apartment wasn’t conducive to a quiet living arrangement. “We had a boardwalk that went all the way around the building, and boys would ride their bikes and trikes so early, and we were just loud,” she said with a laugh. So, in 1969, when they were pregnant with their 5th child, they decided to build their home in Henlopen Acres. “I was pregnant and painting and getting everything ready to move” Anne said. It seemed nothing slowed her down and later that year, they finally welcomed their much-anticipated baby girl, Christine Lynam (Opiela). 

Anne and Dick continued to run Lakeshore Apartments and Lynam Beach Services for 30 more years. “We had a good business going with the rentals,” Anne said. However, in the early 1990’s, when their kids were grown, they decided to downsize. “Dick got tired of cutting grass and having to drive to the shop [the beach for Lynam Beach Services].” So, they sold the house in Henlopen Acres, and moved back to the beach front. It was then that they demolished the apartments they rented and built their custom family home in its place. A beautiful home that still sits on Lake Avenue today.  Anne reflected on her time in Rehoboth and smiled, saying, “I guess at the start, after high school, I thought I’d be a nurse and maybe marry a doctor. I’m so glad I ended up here at the beach.” Instead, she found true love, (she and Dick were married 65 years before he passed in 2018) two booming businesses, and a beautiful family of 5 children; all among the shores of Rehoboth beach. 

Still Going Strong

Today, Lynam Beach Services is still in business. A staple of the coastline during summers in Rehoboth with 7-9 stands spanning the beach front, filled with chairs and umbrellas. “When Dick started the business, I don’t remember if he put them [umbrellas] up, like they do now, because today the kids are taught how to put them into the wind and down deep in the sand,” Anne explains. “But when we started, we used to rent boogie boards and rafts, but they’d never make it back to us at the end of the day, and Dick would sometimes see them in neighbors’ yards, and he’d go knock on the door and get them back…so we stopped that” she laughed. 

In 1954, Dick Lynam and his cousin Dick Catts (the other name you may see donning the blue umbrellas) bid their separate concession businesses together to the City of Rehoboth, to separate the beaches evenly: half and half. “Baltimore Avenue was the division between North and South, and we switched sides each year” Anne explained. They did this in an effort to practice fair business since Funland dominated one side of the beach sales. So, the families agreed to switch sides each year. Today Baltimore Avenue is part of the North side instead of the south side, but the Catts and Lynam business still engage in the “gentleman’s deal” of the annual territory swap. 

Today, two of Anne’s sons help manage Lynam Beach Service, while her other children step in to help whenever they’re needed. “You may see my youngest boy Dave’s concession stands in Dewey Beach” Anne said proudly. “He is the sole proprietor of Dewey Beach Service” she said. Following in his father’s footsteps, he covers umbrella and chair rentals in all of Dewey Beach. “I’m very lucky that all of my children have been involved,” Anne beams. Like their parents, their work ethic and love of the beach runs deep.  

Anne still spends her free time hanging out with her sister and lives just 2 blocks away in Rehoboth Beach. “I try to see her every other day,” Anne said, between her work schedule, of course. Because at 90 years young, Anne still oversees 4 rental properties and is actively involved in Lynam Beach Service; managing the daily morning money bags, record keeping, the books, writing checks and even did all the hiring this year. “I guess you could say I’m still very much involved,” she laughed. “I’m not really a retirement kind of girl,” Anne said with a wink.   


Beach Rehoboth Beach

Restaurant I go to all the restaurants, but can’t pick a favorite. 

Shop Browseabout

Sunset Spot My front porch

Happy Hour After bridge, we like to go to Big Fish or Blue Coast.

Beach Activity Swimming

Beach Read I read a lot. Right now I am reading “ Strangers in the Dark.”

Ice Cream Spot I loved Royal Treat the best, but since it shut down, I just enjoy ice cream at home.

Live Music I like to see BryanClark, I’m going to see him at the Rehoboth Country Club next.

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