With the passing of Michael Joseph Lynch, for many years one of the foremost builders and manufacturers in New England, the community lost a valuable member, while to a multitude of friends his place can never be filled. Not only was he a productive and progressive agent but he was of such sterling character that he attained a fame for rectitude that was not exceeded by that of any other man of his generation. His life was an exemplification of the highest type of citizen, business man and loyal friend. He came here with nothing and erected a business monument to his industry and intelligence that will be immemorial. He was a man with whom it was a joy to deal, for his geniality, optimism, kindliness and clean code of business ethics attracted all men and made friends wherever his feet carried him. He was sound in his religion and in his generosity to the church, and to many other worthy causes he was conspicuous for giving with a liberal hand and maintaining silence of what he did.
Born in Holyoke, Massachusetts, June 28, 1880, he was a son of Maurice J. and Mary (Kennedy) Lynch, who both came to this country about the same time and were married here. Maurice J. Lynch was born in Anniscaul, County Kerry, Ireland, in 1837, and came with his mother to the United States in 1845, settling in New York for a time, but later removing to Holyoke. Here he received a public school education, after which he applied himself to learning the trade of bricklayer. Upon completion of his apprenticeship, however, he at once entered into business on his own account instead of working as a journeyman and took contracts in masonry in Holyoke. Beginning in a small way, his business ability soon displayed itself and his business grew by leaps and bounds until he became one of the largest contractors in the city. Many of the largest buildings in Holyoke still stand as a mark of the honest and enduring work done by Maurice Lynch. He also manufactured bricks, establishing a plant in South Holyoke, and in 1880 another and larger one at South Hadley Falls, where he was actively engaged in the work until his death, January 18, 1902. He had served on the city council and the board of aldermen, was for nine years a water commissioner and was chairman of the board at the time it established the fine water system with which Holyoke is now supplied. He was a prominent member of the St. Jerome Temperance Society and active in the affairs of St. Jerome’s Roman Catholic Church. Since his death his extensive business enterprises have been carried on by his sons under the name of the Lynch Brothers Brick Company. He and his wife were the parents of thirteen children, of whom Michael Joseph is the sixth.
Following an education in the public schools of Holyoke, Michael Joseph Lynch prepared for college and entered Brown University, in Providence, in 1900. In the Holyoke High School he had acquired a high reputation as a baseball pitcher and when he came to Brown his services were in demand in order to bring the university into first place. He demurred, telling the students that he had come to the university to study and not play ball, but the sentiment of the situation finally overcame his scruples and he joined the team. His studies did not suffer from this, however. He was a really wonderful pitcher and in a memorable game with Columbia University he struck out twenty-one men. His batting record also was enviable and he was offered flattering proposals to enter professional baseball. All of these he declined and his strength of character was shown when the New York team of the American League went so far in its efforts to get him that it sent him a contract to sign and name his own salary, an offer which he declined. While he was a student at Brown he pitched the university to the front in intercollegiate baseball and his clean sportsmanship and fine character made him one of the most popular men at the institution. He was chosen by Dean Meikeljohn on the first committee for college celebrations and on another occasion was specially appointed by President Faunce to take charge of a celebration. Another honor he received was membership in the Cammarian Club, a body of thirteen representative students from the junior class, chosen each spring, to act as a sort of senate during the senior year to mediate between faculty and the student body and have general charge of matters of college interest. In 1904 he was graduated from Brown and then entered the professional baseball field, becoming one of the greatest pitchers of all time. Casper Whitney, at that time editor of “Outing,” in picking an “All American” team, spoke of “Mike” Lynch, as he was affectionately known, as follows: “Mike Lynch pitched well for Brown and well for the Pirates. He made the transition with distinguished success.” Even during his professional baseball days he began the study of law at Boston University Law School, from which he was graduated in 1908, his diploma being awarded magna cum laude as a distinguishing mark of his accomplishments as a student. He then left professional ball and two years later, when United States Attorney John S. Murdock retired from the firm of Tillinghast and Murdock, where Mr. Lynch had been trained in the practice of law, he became the junior partner in the firm of Tillinghast and Lynch. His ability as a practitioner was as great as it was when he was a student or a baseball player and in trying before Judge Hughes the famous war-time prohibition act he attained a fame that brought him into national prominence. By this act Rhode Island was enabled to manufacture beer for three months after the rest of the United States was committed to a drought. He became a national authority on Federal law, prohibition and the Eighteenth Amendment. He was a staunch Republican in politics and served as a delegate to the National Republican Convention in Chicago when William H. Taft was nominated for the Presidency. During the World War he was aide to Governor Beekman and in Providence was director in several business corporations. He was a member of the Psi Upsilon and Phi Delta Phi fraternities. He and his family were among the first parishioners of St. Sebastian’s Roman Catholic Church. His death occurred at the age of forty-seven years, in Tarrytown, New York, where he had gone for a rest, April 2, 1927.
Michael Joseph Lynch married, in Providence, Rhode Island, June 3, 1908, Mary T. Slattery, daughter of Michael J. and Elizabeth Mary (Coughlin) Slattery. They were the parents of two children:
- Joseph Lynch, deceased at the age of five years.
- Maurice Lynch.
Volumes might be written of the high character and the splendid achievements of Mr. Lynch, the citizen, or of Attorney Lynch, the advocate, of the man as a home loving, tender husband and generous father. Probably more people sincerely mourned his passing than is the lot of the average man, but he was not an average man but stood head and shoulders above that standard. His like has been seldom born and a duplication is hardly to be expected.
Source: Carroll, Charles. Rhode Island: Three Centuries of Democracy, vol 3 of 4. New York: Lewis historical Pub. Co., 1932.