He seemed like an ordinary guy. And in many ways, he was. Loyal, modest, “a true gentleman” – his friends and family describe Lynn Ostergaard as a man who downplayed his own colourful career, chose a simple lifestyle, and was attentive to the needs of others.
This is telling because Ostergaard, an Ottawa resident who passed away in March 2018 at the age of 74, spent much of his out-of-the-ordinary life on the race car circuit.
The man who built model cars as a child and rebuilt a 1929 Nash in his teens moved on to driving a race car of his own in local races in his early 20s. He eventually became a mechanic on a Formula I team and travelled the Grand Prix circuit. He also worked with an Indy Car Cart team and then a Ferrari dealership. He owned and restored a vintage Alpha Romeo and he remained an important figure in Ottawa’s racing car community until his death.
But there was another side to Ostergaard, who once said, “I’m pretty quiet. To prevent me from boring myself, I have to do interesting things. Writing is one of them. The whole Grand Prix thing is another.” Writing, it turns out, was more than a distraction for Ostergaard. He had a journalism degree from Carleton, held writing and editorial jobs between race car gigs, and authored two major plays that were performed in Halifax and Ottawa.
According to his friends, he was bright and curious, cultured in music and film, and a lover of all things Italian.
All of which could have led to a flamboyant lifestyle. Instead, Ostergaard valued life’s simple pleasures: his Friday night beer with friends at Irene's Pub in Ottawa, his Sunday dinner with his sister Susan’s family, his weekly “Doors Open” concert with his partner Isla, and his regular meetings with friends to discuss cars or literature. His fall escape to Drumheller to help his cousin harvest his crops was a fixture on his calendar. Ostergaard’s apartment in Ottawa was modestly furnished, his wardrobe was casual, and his tastes more practical than exotic. Perhaps surprisingly, he bought and drove second-hand cars.
It would make sense that the combination of this frugality, the Ostergaard family tradition of donating to charity, and Lynn’s special concern for people in need, would lead him to be a regular supporter of certain preferred causes.
The surprise was the extent of his generosity. Lynn Ostergaard bequeathed the largest share of his estate to charity, including the Humanitarian Coalition – a group of Canadian relief agencies that work together to raise funds for international emergencies.
Susan Ostergaard says the family applauds his decision. “We knew he wanted to leave his money to people who needed it,” she says.
“If his first donation to the Humanitarian Coalition was following the earthquake in Haiti, it would make sense for him to keep giving to an organization that he had come to trust. And with this legacy donation, he is still giving.
“We are really proud of Lynn for setting an example in this way.”
According to Richard Morgan, executive director of the Humanitarian Coalition, Lynn’s donation will have a tremendous impact on families uprooted by disaster. “Imagine the thousands of women, children and men that will receive life-saving food, water and shelter thanks to Lynn’s bequest,” he says. “On top of that, donations like Lynn’s to the Humanitarian Coalition generate up to 20 times more impact through additional funding from the Government of Canada when disasters happen around the world.”
That’s even better news for Lynn’s friend Ray Amiro, noting his unending quest to find a good deal. “Lynn would have liked that,” he says with a knowing chuckle. “He would have really liked that.”
Have you considered making a legacy donation like Lynn? Remembering the Humanitarian Coalition in your will means we can continue to save and rebuild lives in times of emergency. Anyone can make a bequest, and any amount will make a difference.
To add us to your will, you simply need the following details:
Humanitarian Coalition, 39 McArthur Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario, K1L 8L7
Charitable Registration Number: 83159 0666 RR0001
For more information on how you can help save lives, please contact us.