It seems Catherine Lynch’s only downtime is at 7 in the morning, when she relaxes with her hot cup of coffee and opens the newspaper to read about the city spinning around her — her city.
The associate vice president for women’s health at USF, associate dean for femalefaculty development andmedical school professor became the first lady of Tampa on April 1, 2011, a role she had never anticipated in her lifetime.
Fifteen years ago, after a friend hounded hercontinuously for three years to meet Bob Buckhorn, then a Tampa City Councilmember and self proclaimed politician from the age of 10, Lynch remembers askingherself, “Who is that and why do I want to be involved with a politician?”
When Lynch and her friend were having lunch one day, Buckhorn happened to beeating at the same restaurant and the two were finally able to meet. Lynch got her answer.
Buckhorn walked over to say hello and introducehimself on the way out.
He thought she was, “smart, beautiful and way more than I deserved,” Buckhorn said in an interview with The Oracle.
She thought he was, “dressed nicely and had a goodhandshake,” she said.
A few dates later, Buckhorn said Lynch had to meet his Siberian Husky.
“I had to meet the dog to make sure,” she said. “If I didn’t like the dog and the dog didn’t like me, the dog was staying.”
Lynch and the dog were compatible, and since then she has played thesupporting character in thelife of an ambitiouspolitician and current Tampamayor, as well as thepromising star in her budding career as aphysician and professor.
Apart from maintaining her role as first lady, Lynch is a gynecologist and practicesout of Tampa General Hospital and the South TampaCenter for AdvancedHealthcare, where she also teaches USF medicalstudents.
Though her career has taken her throughperforming Cesarian sectionson orangutans and deliveringbabies with students at2 a.m., Lynch said she finds being the mayor’s wifeparticularly “entertaining.”
“It’s a lot of fun and you get to meet people from all different walks of life doing all different sorts of things,” she said. “I have been at more than one event that somebody has passed out and people say, ‘Where is Bob’s wife?'”
Though there are no defined responsibilities for her, Lynch said she often findsherself unable to meet everyexpectation that comes with being the mayor’s wife.
“Certainly there are anumber of events the mayor’s spouse is expected to be there in attendance,” she said. “But, most of the time, my work day (takes up) my day. The City of Tampa elected Bob andcertainly knew when they elected him that I was apracticing physician.”
Lynch and Buckhorn have two daughters – Colleen,age 6, and Grace, age10 – who are involved in a swimming team and havecompetitions around the Tampa Bay area.
Weekends at the Buckhorns are busy, filled with swim meets, hospital practice and socialite events. But every night the family tries to eat dinner together.
“Most of the time, we have dinner together at home five out of seven nights of the week,” Lynch said. “Myhusband and I both feel it’s very important to have family dinner time.”
The family may eat a little later than others, Lynch said, but that is how each of their schedules work out.
“(My oldest daughter) gets home from swimming at about 7:15 and I might havegotten home from workbetween 6:30 to 7, and if Bob has events he usually is able to be home between7 to 7:30,” she said.”We then sit down to havedinner together at about 7:30, or so.”
Buckhorn said he would love to have Lynch with him at all of his events, but said thatthe couple values parentingmore than their harriedschedules.
“My job is not to be the best mayor,” he said. “My job is to be the best dad.Cathy feels the sameway. It doesn’t matter if she’s a great first lady or physicianif she fails as a mom.Both of us keep that at thetop of our list of priorities.
“When (my children) see her juggling all that shejuggles and doing it so well,then I think that’s an example that they could emulate,” he said.
Lynch is not the only one who juggles.
The mayor has been toseveral resident graduationsand for Alpha OmegaAlpha (AOA) meetings, agynecology honor society.
“In terms of being atplaces where its importantfor her that I be there, I try and do it as much as I can,” he said. “I don’t get in andmake recommendationsregarding surgery, (but)I don’t think you wantthat to happen.”