Alan Sims Gaynor was born in Savannah on October 11, 1928, the son of Dora Gittelsohn and Sims S. Guckenheimer. In the 1930s the family changed the name to Gaynor. Alan’s father was involved in national radio at the time and felt the name Guckenheimer was problematic for his career. The family moved to Chicago, then New Rochelle, New York, where Gaynor graduated from high school. He graduated from the University of Virginia, where he received a number of undergraduate honors, including membership in the prestigious Raven Society, 13 Society, and Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society. He received his law degree from the University of Virginia in 1952.
During the Korean War, Mr. Gaynor served in the U.S. Air Force Judge Advocates General Corps and was stationed in Goose Bay, Labrador, where he achieved the rank of Captain. He returned to Savannah in 1954 and began his law practice with Bouhan, Williams, and Levy and concentrated in the areas of real estate law, trusts and estates, and corporate law. He served as chairman of the Corporate and Banking Law Section of the State Bar of Georgia and as president of the Savannah Bar Association. Toward the end of his career, Mr. Gaynor did extensive pro bono work for Georgia Legal Services.
Mr. Gaynor served in the Georgia House of Representatives from 1966 to 1972. He was also involved with the Boy Scouts of America throughout his life. As a young man, he attained the rank of Eagle Scout and as an adult he served with the Coastal Empire Council as troop leader, camp counselor, and in other administrative and advisory positions. He was awarded the Silver Beaver and Celtic Cross awards, significant honors within the Scouting movement.
Mr. Gaynor was a lifelong member and supporter of the Georgia Historical Society, serving as Treasurer as well. He served as president of the Rotary Club of Savannah, was a founding member of Goodwill Industries of the Coastal Empire, Inc., and was on the boards of the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum, the Telfair Academy, and the United Way of the Coastal Empire. He was also a member of the Military Order of World Wars.
An early proponent of Savannah’s revitalization, he purchased and restored a home on Lincoln Street in the early 1960s and lived there almost 50 years. Always intensely interested in his cultural and community heritage, Mr. Gaynor was involved in the development and historical research for the museum at Temple Mickve Israel. For years, he worked on compiling histories of the Congregation, which was founded in 1733, shortly after the establishment of the Georgia colony. As Savannah and Mickve Israel tourism increased, he helped develop an audio tour of the historic sanctuary on Monterey Square. For many years, he was a docent at the Synagogue.
Mr. Gaynor died on August 21, 2010, in Savannah, at age 81. He is buried in Laurel Grove Cemetery in Savannah.
Mr. Gaynor left a bequest to the Georgia Historical Society in his will, and in 2011 the Alan Gaynor Fund was established by the Society with these funds, ensuring that Mr. Gaynor’s love of Georgia history and his commitment to history education will continue in perpetuity.