Lynn and her husband Ray were a huge part of Forest & Bluff’s early years, as Fitzgerald’s Photography often produced beautiful cover images—perfectly representing our incredible communities—as our deadlines loomed. As one friend so perfectly said, “Ray was the guy behind the camera, but we all went back to Fitzgerald’s because of how much we loved Lynn.” (We love Ray, too!)
No one feels Lynn’s loss more deeply than her family. As an outside observer, it was clear that her family was the center of her life—and she was theirs.
Several years ago, I was in need of a great local love story around Valentine’s Day and I was lucky enough to interview the Fitzgerald’s. Their love story is a special and enduring one I’ll never forget. Just last year, they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. As our thank you to Lynn, we’d like to share this story with you again.
Rest in peace, Lynn.
Ray Fitzgerald, owner of Fitzgerald’s Photography in Lake Forest, is a great storyteller. Part of his great charm is that he’s a fourth generation Lake Forester—meaning he knows everyone, has worked everywhere, and has an opinion on most things local.
When you first meet Ray, one of the first stories he’ll tell you is how he met the love of his life, Lynn Hansen, when they were in eighth grade.
“I went to St. Mary’s and wasn’t much of a student,” explains Ray with a twinkle. “There were nuns… lots of them. And they were strict. I was jealous of my buddies at Deer Path who didn’t have nuns…who got to switch teachers for classes. So one day, they got permission for me to sit in on some of their classes.” That’s when Ray saw Lynn for the first time and asked, “Who’s the one in the ponytail?”
Fast-forward to their sophomore year at Lake Forest High School, where the two officially met at a Rec Center dance, back in the days when the Rec Center was located where Blockbuster is now in downtown Lake Forest.
“My friend ended up leaving the dance early with a friend of Ray’s and he was left to give me a ride home,” says Lynn. “I think the whole thing was cooked up,” Ray adds, as Lynn rolls her eyes. This was their unofficial first date.
Not long after graduating from high school, the pair was driving down Green Bay Road on Valentine’s Day when Ray handed Lynn an engagement ring. The two were married on November 30, 1963, just eight days after President Kennedy was assassinated.
“They hadn’t even had the funeral yet [for Kennedy],” remembers Lynn. “We thought about postponing the wedding, but we kept our plans.” Ray and Lynn were married at St. Patrick’s Church in Lake Forest with a reception at the Deer Path Inn.
In 1982, Ray and Lynn bought Scotty’s Photo and renamed the studio Fitzgerald’s Photography. “When Scotty was getting ready to sell, I floated the idea of buying it with Lynn. I’d been accused of a lot of hairbrained ideas and didn’t want this to be another,” explains Ray.
“I remember telling Ray, ‘Wouldn’t it be neat to take pictures of brides and babies?’” says Lynn. And today, Fitzgerald’s Photography is a local institution run by the duo. “I can’t imagine having our studio anywhere else.”
Two of the Fitzgerald’s three children and their families live in Lake Forest today. One night, Ray and Lynn were babysitting for their son Colt’s family. Before the children went to bed, nine-year-old Lily was stroking Ray’s cheek.
“What are you thinking?” Ray asked Lily.
“That you’re lucky,” she said.
“Why am I lucky?” he asked.
“Because you got her,” Lily said pointing to Lynn.
– Ann Marie Scheidler & John Conatser // Photography provided by Fitzgerald’s