She was born May 1, 1940, in Chicago, Illinois, to Mary Catherine and Joseph Valentine Lynskey. Both of her parents were born in America to Irish and German immigrants. She grew up with her sister Denise Medema, three years her junior, in River Forest, Illinois, a suburb west of downtown Chicago. Her father was a CPA and senior partner in an accounting firm and her mother was a homemaker. Her family always had a dog and once a cat too. Nora was a life-long animal lover and especially enjoyed their family vacations to Arizona and Colorado where she enjoyed horseback riding after taking lessons in Chicago.
The Early Years
Nora attended all local Catholic schools: St Luke’s Parochial, Trinity High School, and graduated as a French major from Rosary College (now Dominican University). This education gave her a life-long appreciation for the teachings of the Sinsinawa Dominican order. She was a very accomplished student and excelled at all her studies including French, math, and piano. Her senior year in high school she was recognized with a picture on the front page of the Chicago Tribune for receiving the National Merit Scholarship after getting a perfect score on the math portion. Her senior year in high school she was also presented to the Chicago Archdiocese Cardinal at the Loyola Cardinal Stritch Medical School Dinner During college she spent one summer in Quebec, Canada, improving her French pronunciation and the other summers on Deer Isle, off the coast of Maine, at an all-French-speaking camp. She spent her third year in Fribourg, Switzerland, perfecting her French. When she graduated, she went on to teach French at Leyden West High School for two years near Chicago. In 1965, after spending a summer in Florence, learning Italian, she found a job teaching French at the American School in Paris.
Young Adult Years
Just after arriving at the new job, she met Leo Browne during the orientation week in the faculty lounge and the second time they met he asked her out on a date. Just a month later, he proposed to her in the living room of her flat. They spent their courtship traveling throughout France shopping for antiques and enjoying the cuisine they both loved. They married on July 30, 1966, in River Forest and traveled back to France on the SS France for their honeymoon. For the next year they lived in a lovely house on a hill in Villensce outside of Paris.
Over the next two decades, Leo’s career took them to Karlsruhe, Germany; Baumholder, Germany; Madrid, Spain; Rota, Spain; and finally Vicenza, Italy. She mastered the language in each of the countries where they lived. In July of 1967 they welcomed their eldest child, Katherine (Kitty) Martha while visiting Leo’s family in Stockton, CA. Their next two daughters were born in Germany: Elizabeth (Lisa) Patricia in Neubreucke in 1969 and Teresa (Tracy) Rose in Bad Kreuznach in 1971. Because Leo had become an administrator at the only high schools on the bases, Nora was not able to continue as a French teacher, but worked as an elementary substitute teacher after their children were born. She was also very active in the local Catholic parishes everywhere they lived including running the CCD program in Rota, Spain, and participating in and eventually leading a Renew Bible study that began before she arrived in Florida in 1987 and continues today. She always placed great value on education and would often volunteer her time to help with adult education programs with the church. She and her family returned to River Forest every other summer during the 21 years they lived in Europe.
From a young age, Nora was always a fan of curling up with a good book, and was often caught reading with a flashlight under her blankets after bedtime! She passed along her love for reading to all three of her daughters. Nora enjoyed opera, ballet, musicals and the theater. The family loved to sing along and learn every lyric to the popular musicals. While they lived in Europe, Nora was always passionate about exposing her daughters to the art and culture available to them. In her creative way she made up guessing games for them to play to learn the saints and symbolism used in the religious paintings in the many churches they visited. She also encouraged and supported her daughters to get involved in activities and sports.
The summer of 1987 the family moved to Altamonte Springs, Florida, north of Orlando except Kitty and Lisa who were off to college by then. They adopted a Peek-a-poo, Killer, to keep Tracy company. Again Nora became very involved in the local parish, St. Mary Magdalen where they attended church each week. In late 90’s, they bought a second home by the coast in Satellite Beach. Here they attended Holy Name of Jesus Parish where her eldest daughter Kitty taught for twelve years. Nora also became active in the Society for Creative Anachronism with Kitty. The SCA is a medieval recreation group where she was known as Lady Eleanora de Laval. Once living in Florida, Nora so enjoyed the pleasant temperatures and did not miss the winters in Chicago. She became very interested in gardening and worked in her yard diligently. She enjoyed visiting her daughters: Lisa in Houston and Tracy in Santa Monica and on her film jobs in New Orleans and Atlanta.
She passed away on February 29, 2016, after battling numerous injuries sustained in a car accident a month earlier.