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In Memoriam: Long Time History Professor John "Jack" Lynch '44

December 03, 2010

Story by Barbara LeBlanc

John A. Lynch, professor emeritus of history and a member of the Class of 1944, died Dec. 11 at The Lahey Clinic following a brief illness. He was 89.

A resident of Manchester, he was born in Norfolk, Va., April 22, 1921, to John A. and Helen (Murphy) Lynch. He grew up in Lowell, Mass., where he attended Keith Academy.

He earned his bachelor of arts degree in English from Saint Anselm College and his master's in history from Boston College. He taught history for 43 years at Saint Anselm, joining the faculty in 1947 and serving as chair of the history department for 20 years.

In 1948, he founded the St. Thomas More Debate Society and had such great success that he was named chosen as the national collegiate debate coach of the year in 1970. In his 46 years as coach, he authored more than 30 handbooks on national college debate topics.

"Even more than success, Professor Lynch was known as a wonderful individual who was a mentor to countless students, at Saint Anselm College and other colleges, as well as to many young coaches throughout the country," said David Trumble, his successor as debate coach.  "Jack inspired his students to believe in themselves. He always saw the best in his students."

When he retired in 1994, a debate coach from another college attended a party held in his honor. Trumble recalled him saying, "There were three kinds of debate coaches: those who do it for the victories, those who do it for a living, and those who do it for their students. Jack Lynch was the third type."

The Alumni Association honored him with the Alumni Award of Merit in 1968. Four of his five children went on to become Saint Anselm alumni, as well, and his son, James, has worked for the college's dining services for many years.

Before he joined the Saint Anselm faculty, he served with Charlie Company 1st Battalion 4th Marines, Sixth Division, in the Pacific Rim and fought in the Battle of Okinawa. His wartime experiences provided him with stories he shared with his history students. 

He will be remembered as a life-long mentor to his students and children. He enjoyed fishing, gardening, and all Boston sports. He was a loving and devoted husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather.

Family members include his children, John A. Lynch Jr. '71, Maureen Thornton '72, both of Maryland, Dennis Lynch '75, of West Virginia, Gail Lynch '77, James Lynch, both of Manchester; a brother Philip Lynch, of Vermont; several nieces, nephews, and cousins; he was predeceased by his wife Marie F. Lynch in 1993.

Calling hours at the Lambert Funeral Home and Crematory, 1799 Elm St. corner of North St., will be Sunday from 4 to 7 p.m.

A funeral Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at Saint Anselm Abbey Church, 100 Saint Anselm Dr., Manchester, on Monday at 10 a.m.

Burial will take place at St. Joseph Cemetery, Donald St., in Bedford.

Memorial donations may be made to Marie Lynch Scholarship Fund, 100 Saint Anselm Dr. Manchester, NH 03102. 

Photo Gallery

Jack Lynch '44

For additional photos, visit our Flickr photo gallery.

Magazine Articles

Through the years, several Saint Anselm Magazine articles were written about the contributions that Jack Lynch made to the college.

"He Can't Resist a Good Story" (PDF)
"Resolved: that Jack Lynch..." (PDF)
"Debate Society is 50 Years Old"  (PDF)



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