John F. Hynes was born in Avery, Iowa, on June 26, 1891. He completed high school and college at St. Ambrose Academy in Davenport, Iowa, and studied literature and law at Notre Dame in 1914-15. He joined the Iowa Bar and practiced law with the Miller and Wallingford firm; three years later he joined EMC in the claims area. Hynes was elected company secretary in 1920. As secretary, he was responsible for the company books and records, and supervised accounting functions. He retained his duties as secretary and continued as claims manager until he was named president in 1947. Hynes was known as a fine lawyer, a brilliant executive and a warm and understanding man. He was also a hard worker, in the office most evenings and weekends, and never missed a board meeting from his election in 1925 until his death.
He was named vice president in 1940 and promoted to senior vice president shortly before becoming president in 1947. During his decade as president, EMC experienced great growth—in his first year, EMC was a small regional company with a total premium of $12 million. By 1957, the company had nine branches and six service offices in 32 states, District of Columbia and Canada, and a total premium of over $31 million.
After reaching his 70th birthday and overseeing EMC’s 50th anniversary, Hynes retired as chairman and was named Honorary Chairman for Life in 1962. When John Hynes stepped down from the presidency, John W. Gunn returned to fill the position. When Hynes died in 1968, his service record was the longest to date: 44 of the company’s 51 years.