James M. "Jimmy" Lynch

James M. Lynch, acclaimed swim and football coach revered by three generations of Rhode Island student athletes, passed away peacefully on May 6th at his home in Cranston. Over the course of fifty-six years, Jimmy maintained a selfless dedication and enduring commitment to educating the hundreds of athletes who were fortunate to have called him "Coach" either on the football field or in the pool. Jimmy was married to Norma Cianci Lynch for 67 years. Together they raised four sons, the late Dr. James "Rip" Lynch, Gary Lynch of West Orange, NJ, John J. "Jack" Lynch of Bloomfield, NJ, and Brian Lynch of Cranston. He is pre-deceased by his brothers John J. Lynch and Edmund B. Lynch and his sister Mary E. McAteer. Born in Providence to John J. and Mary E. Heron Lynch, Jimmy graduated from Central High School in 1942 where he enjoyed an outstanding athletic career in football, wrestling, and track. He entered the US Army in February 1943 where he was eventually assigned to the Amphibious Engineers, an elite combat unit serving under Gen. Douglas MacArthur in the South Pacific Theatre of Operations. Promoted to Master Sergeant, he went on to earn three Bronze Stars in the Phillipines, Luzon, and New Guinea campaigns for his extraordinary service to his country. After the war, Jimmy graduated from Arnold College where he played on the football team with future NFL Hall of Famer Andy Robustelli. He began his career as an educator and coach in 1953 becoming the Director of Gladstone Elementary School's swim program. He established the Cranston Swim Club and entered swimmers of all ages in AAU meets across New England. This was the catalyst for the creation of the Cranston YMCA Swim Team, the successful swim program at Bain JHS, and positioned Cranston as a New England swimming powerhouse. Jimmy then formed the Cranston West High School Swim Team whose success is well known across the region. Under Jimmy's leadership, "West" compiled an impressive Dual Meet record with 200+ wins including a remarkable streak of 47 straight wins from 1971-73. Jimmy's teams took a total of five RI State Championships from 1971-76 and won the 1972 New England Swim Championship. The 1974 team swam undefeated all the way to the State Title. Although Jimmy loved coaching interscholastic swimmers, he was equally at home teaching Special Olympic swimmers during his summer programs. As much as he dedicated himself to swimming, he was equally committed to coaching the line in football. He started as an Assistant Coach at Cranston East for the legendary Ted Stebbins in 1950. In 1963 he began a successful run as Cranston West's line coach followed up by equally successful stints at Salve Regina University, Porthsmouth HS and LaSalle Academy. Jimmy defined success not in wins and losses, but in the character he nurtured in his athletes. He was famous for inspiring them to achieve in life, as well as in sport; supporting them in school and long after graduation; teaching and mentoring for a lifetime; and bringing good times, accomplishments and happy memories to so many. It is impossible to quantify the contribution Coach Lynch made to the youth of RI. The awards, citations, and honors he received reflect only a portion of his dedication and commitment. Jimmy was recognized by organizations and civic groups nationwide. He was inducted to five Halls of Fame for swimming and football and recognized by the NCAA, USA Football, the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association of America and many, many more. Yet it was the athletes who unfailingly returned to his side to thank him for everything he gave them that became the true reflection of his life's work. As one wrote on Jimmy's last birthday, "So many have been touched by your hand in guiding us to achieve as you have - not just during the time spent with you as our coach, but in our adult lives going forward. Thanks!"
A Memorial Service will be celebrated on Monday at 11:00am in St. George Maronite Church 1493 Cranston Street Cranston.

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Edward Golden - 05/09/2015

Condolence to the family of my best friend Jim.

Marty Oxley - 05/10/2015

My prayers to the Lynch family, Coach was an inspiration to me as I both played for him and had the greatest pleasure of coaching along side him. He was a man of integrity and will never be forgotten

Ellis Mayers - 05/10/2015

My thoughts and prayers are with you all at this most difficult time. Jim was a good friend and will be missed.

Jeff Harwell - 05/10/2015

I am proud to have had Coach Lynch as my swim coach at Cranston West from 1972 to 1974. He was a great coach, friend, and man and taught me valuable lessons of hard work and dedication to achieve success both in the pool and in life. Rest in peach Coach. I am grateful to have had you in my life and will always remember you fondly.

Tom Sweeney - 05/10/2015

I became the swim coach for Hugh B. Bain Jr.High School in the late sixties, when Jim took over Cranston West. Although we both used the Gladstone Pool and competed against each other, we quickly became very good friends. He was a good friend, coach and just a fantastic person and I will never forget him.

Tom Manfredi - 05/10/2015

My twin brother and I were 12 years old and lived next to the newly built Gladstone school when a young Jimmy Lynch thought us to swim and immediately put us on the Gladstone swim team. Jim and others persuaded his good friend Ed Golden to coach the Cranston swim team and the rest is history. The success of Cranston swimming and it's impact on so many of us attending college and living successful lives is due to Jim Lynch,s (and Ed's) never ending dedication to his swimmers. And the same is true regarding Jim,s football players.

Bill Aukerman - 05/10/2015

Jimmy was one of the "good Guys" that you meet as you go through life. Very proud to have had him as a friend and co worker in Cranston !!!

Gary Grande - 05/10/2015

Dear Norma,
I am a proud member of the Cranston West swim teams 1972-74. I have loved, admired and emulated Coach for all of my life. He gave me a chance to be part of something that I have cherished all of my life. TodayI coach young people, I never step on to the field, without thinking of coach. He inspires me every day. I wish you and your family find peace in the fact that coach was great man.

Jeff Florio - 05/11/2015

Everyone should have their lives touched by a person like Mr. Lynch.

Tony Pellegrini - 05/11/2015

Jimmy Lynch, o Mr Lynch as we called him, was one of a kind. I spend most of my childhood either in the Gladstone pool with him or at the Saturday morning basketball program he ran in the Gladstone gym. Kids loved and respected Jimmy. Remarkably, he never had to "discipline" kids in these settings, and this was amazing given that we were a rather unruly lot. Those many hours I spent in the pool certainly kept me out of trouble and gave me a life long love of swimming and other forms of athletic participation. Mr Lynch was a gift to Cranston, especially its youth. As an adult when I'd return to Cranston, I'd make it a point to walk by the Lynch's home, often with one of my kids in tow, and I'd talk with Jimmy. My kids heard all about him from me, and got to meet him.

Dick Vincent - 05/11/2015

To Norma,

Jim will never be forgotten by our family.

Mim and Dick...and our boys.

Steven Stoehr - 05/12/2015

My condolences to the family. I will miss seeing Coach showing up to our games at the Cranston Stadium. I really enjoyed visiting with him in the stands before games.

Jerry Jennings - 05/13/2015

Jimmy Lynch will always be revered as a great influence on so many young People in Cranston. A wonderful human being. Rest in Peace.

Kevin and Carol Lavin - 05/19/2015

So sorry to hear about Jimmy. He was such a wonderful man. We will never forget him.

Ron Sutherland - 05/22/2015

God Bless You, old friend - a Champion's Champion!!
My condolences to the family.

Bob Vierling - 09/14/2015

Jimmy was one of three mentors in my life. I have carried a piece of him with me for the last 55 years since I first met him in 7th grade swim class. Like so many others, my two brothers and I are forever greatful to have known such an outstanding person.

David McGowan - 03/14/2017

You cared so we cared. Thanks Coach

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