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Floral 20


Harriet Ronken Lynton

May 22, 1920 ~ March 18, 2018 (age 97)

Ronnie Lynton was born in 1920 as the second daughter of second-generation Norwegian immigrants, Harriet Oline Ronken—Ronnie, as she liked to be called—grew up in a family that prized education and encouraged their women. She graduated from Rochester High School and went on to St. Olaf College, then to Radcliffe, where she graduated magna cum laude.

She became the third woman on the faculty of the Harvard Business School; it was there that she met and in 1955 married her British-German husband, Rolf Lynton.  They continued their professional partnership and began their marriage by moving to Asia, living mostly in Sri Lanka and then India, where their three children, Maya, Nandani, and Devadas, were born and spent their early years. 

Over the years, Ronnie and Rolf lived in Mysore (Karnataka), Ahmedabad, Anand, and New Delhi, but Ronnie considered her Indian base to be Hyderabad, a major city in the middle of India.  From the house they remodeled in 1962, they could look across a narrow valley to Banjara Hills, on top of which panthers still played.

About India, Ronnie wrote, “We slept in palaces and on the floors of mud huts where I decided there was nothing to do about the rats in the thatch overhead so I went to sleep; we met Chief Ministers and leaders in scientific fields and untouchables.  We were treated as members of Indian families in widely differing parts of the country. In other words, our experience in India is broad and varied, like India itself.” 

In 1966, the family moved to Chapel Hill, N.C., where Rolf joined UNC and simultaneously earned his master’s and doctorate degrees. In 1974 they moved to Columbia, S.C., but returned to international life in 1982 when they began a seven-year project in Indonesia and also returned to live in India with a shorter stint in Botswana. In 1991, deciding to semi-retire, they moved to Fearrington, N.C.

Ronnie’s work as organizational consultant and trained faculty of institutions in case research and interactive teaching from experiential material grew from her training and through her 65-year professional partnership with Rolf. While she especially enjoyed case teaching, in the 1970s she discovered the joys of archival research and launched into a different career: writing. She published biographies of an Indian prince, his regent, and India’s most famous classical dancer, and then added four novels and a memoir. Ronnie’s first published novel Sawdust House brought to life her memories and the stories of her Norwegian ancestors who pioneered to the American West, while her other novels grew out of her experiences in India.

Ronnie loved India. She wore saris as if she had grown up in them, and she bloomed in the physical and emotional warmth of the communities to which she belonged. In Fearrington, their friends, her writers’ group, and the communities at Church of the Advocate and St. Bartholomew’s were very important.

Ronnie died surrounded by the family who loved her and who were, along with Rolf, the loves of her life: daughters Maya Rake (and husband Damon) and Nandani Lynton; son Devadas Lynton; grandchildren Rajan Engh (and wife Carolyn), Mirea Lynton-Grotz (and husband Martin Menski), Milena Engh, and Chelsea Engh; and great-grandchild Amalia Menski.


Arrangements By: Knotts Funeral Home, Chapel Hill 

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