September 2003

Lynn Millane -
A Lifetime of Service

by Joseph H. Radder

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Lynn Millane was honored recently as the New York State Senate’s 2003 Woman of Distinction. The award was presented by Senator Mary Lou Rath in Albany. Those who know Lynn Millane were not surprised. She has indeed distinguished herself with a lifetime of service to her fellow citizens.

Listening, helping, problem-solving are the words that come to mind when one looks back on her career in volunteerism and as an elected official. Prior to serving as supervisor of the Town of Amherst, she had been deputy supervisor and a member of the Town Board since 1982. Lynn Millane was the first woman to hold these positions and is clearly proud of her trail-blazing role.

Since retiring from elected office and, except for a short stint as a liaison between Senator Rath’s office and the UB Law School’s Family Violence Clinic, Lynn has made a full-time job of volunteerism.

She currently serves as a Trustee at Daemen College, where she is a member of the Student Affairs Committee and was Co-Associate Chair of the Major Gift Division in Daemen’s 1983-84 Capital Campaign. She is a life member of the UB Alumni Association, and served on UB’s Community Advisory Council for twelve years.

Her many other volunteerism achievements are too numerous to mention. Some of the organizations served include ECMC, the Erie County Bar Association, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Amherst Symphony, Fans for 17, and Zonta International.

Always a champion of senior citizens issues, Lynn Millane has been chair of the Aging Services Advisory Committee to the New York State Office for the Aging since 1996. She was a member of the Amherst Senior Citizens Foundation Board, director of the Network in Aging, served on the the Blocher Homes 90th Anniversary Committee, and most recently for the Red Cross, has been involved in the Greater Buffalo Chapter’s Services to Older Adults and its LIFE project.

“A very, very interesting current activity,” she says proudly, “has been to serve as a commisioner on the New York State Ethics Commission”. She was appointed to this post by Governor Pataki in 1999. Well-suited to this position, Lynn worked with the Town Attorney to rewrite the Town of Amherst’s Code of Ethics. She also designed the guidelines for the town’s new ethics committee.

Millane credits her dedication to service to her parents who were great believers that “people should give back to the community.” She apparently took this advice early. “As I look back, I have been a volunteer since I was a teenager” she remembered.

As liaison to the Amherst library system, one highlight stands out as she recalls her service on the Amherst Town Board. “We needed another library, so I applied for a federal construction grant. With the help of Senator John Sheffer, the town’s planning department and the director of the Amherst library system, our second attempt was successful,” she says, reflecting the thrill of the moment. “I was so excited I almost went through the roof.” The result, of course, was the new main library on John James Audubon Parkway.

One of Millane’s most memorable personal moments was on a trip to Europe with the Hope for Tomorrow Foundation when she met Poland’s president, Lech Walesa. She asked him if there were any women in Poland’s government. “No,” he said, “they talk too much.”

Turning to the subject of family, she said “My children are my biggest accomplishment.” And Lynn is quick to credit much of her success to her late husband’s support. “He was the one who encouraged me to run for office. He told me I could accomplish anything I set my mind to.”

Lynn and J. Vaughan “Bud” Millane were married in 1952 at St. Joseph’s New Cathedral. They had five children, three daughters and two sons. Daughter Maureen is an assistant dean of external business programs at Canisius College, Michele is an advisory special agent with the FBI, and Kathleen, a teacher, is busy raising her family in Virginia. Her son, Sean is a practicing local attorney and a retired Marine Corps major. Son Mark, is a certified mechanic. There are sixteen grandchildren and Lynn feels very fortunate that nine of them live in the Buffalo area. “I have been truly blessed,” she said.

Lynn Millane has always been very family-oriented. Her father, Robert Schermerhorn, a CPA, set a great example for her in terms of volunteerism. Her mother, Justine was a medical secretary.

A voracious reader, she belongs to the University of Buffalo Women’s Book Club. And “I love to play bridge, I enjoy music and the theater and I work the New York Times crossword puzzle every Sunday,” Lynn says.

Philosophy? Lynn remembered she once read “what makes someone a good person is what has been recorded in the ledger of his daily work.”

When one looks over the ledger of Lynn Millane’s life there’s only one conclusion that can be reached. She truly is a good person. Her lifetime of service proves it.

Joseph H. Radder, a frequent contributor to Living Prime Time, is author of a new book, Young Jesus, the Missing Years. For more information, phone 1-888-280-7715 or visit


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