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Sept. 22, 2021

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Ed Lynch: Farewell to a community hero

Hundreds gather to share stories, celebrate vibrant life, contributions of Vancouver philanthropist

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor
Published:
5 Photos
Hundreds of people packed into the sanctuary and nearby overflow rooms Sunday at First United Methodist Church to celebrate the life of philanthropist Ed Lynch.
Hundreds of people packed into the sanctuary and nearby overflow rooms Sunday at First United Methodist Church to celebrate the life of philanthropist Ed Lynch. Fans and bottles of cold water were used to keep the crowd cool on the hot day. Photo Gallery

Memorial Contributions

Financial donations may be made in Ed Lynch’s name to the Community Foundation of Southwest Washington, 610 Esther St., Suite 201, Vancouver, 98660.

Clark County not only said goodbye to Ed Lynch on Sunday, it said thank you.

An estimated 800 people packed into the sanctuary and nearby overflow rooms at First United Methodist Church in west Vancouver to celebrate Edward Chester Lynch, a successful businessman, proud Vancouver resident and prolific philanthropist who died May 10 at the age of 94.

“His legacy will continue to benefit Clark County for generations to come,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a letter read by state Rep. Jim Moeller during the memorial service Sunday afternoon. “Ed was a man of integrity and vision who understood the importance of giving back.”

The organizations and causes Ed and his late wife, Dollie, contributed to seemed countless. Their daughter, Susan Lynch, demonstrated her father’s impact Sunday by asking her family and close friends, who were seated in the front pews, to stand up, turn around and face the crowd.

Memorial Contributions

Financial donations may be made in Ed Lynch's name to the Community Foundation of Southwest Washington, 610 Esther St., Suite 201, Vancouver, 98660.

She then asked those who had worked with Ed Lynch on a cause or campaign to stand and raise a hand. She asked those he had given advice to, those he had helped financially, or those he had encouraged or empowered to also stand.

Nearly everyone was on their feet by the time she was done.

“All of these people are standing because of the man he was and the example he set,” Susan Lynch said.

Those eulogizing Lynch gave him many titles: Navy man, patriot, engineer, bookworm, deal broker, problem solver, benefactor, historian, mentor and even arm candy.

That last title was given by friend Mark Matthias, who said he once referred to Lynch as Dollie’s arm candy. At first, Ed Lynch was speechless, but the comment launched a long relationship of witty banter — at least on Lynch’s end.

“Ed’s pool of knowledge is like Olympic size, and mine’s like a bird bath,” he said, jokingly. He later added through tears: “Farewell, my friend. You will be in our hearts forever.”

Ed Lynch lacked focus as a young college student in California, friends said Sunday, but once he joined the Navy, that changed. After serving in World War II, he completed his civil engineering degree at Stanford University. His engineering career prompted Lynch and his wife to move a couple dozen times before they settled in 1957 in Vancouver. They had four children.

In Clark County, Lynch rose through the ranks at his company, eventually becoming president of Kiewit Pacific, a Vancouver-based subsidiary of one of the world’s largest construction contractors. Under his leadership, the company oversaw some big projects, including work on the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline and the Kingdome in Seattle.

Lynch retired in 1985 but used the next three decades to give his time, money and leadership to the county. Recently, he assisted in the Fort Vancouver National Trust’s purchase of The Academy, one of the oldest buildings in the state. In 2012, he gave the first $2 million to kick off a project to preserve and renovate the structure at 400 E. Evergreen Blvd. for generations of future use.

Even in his later years, Ed Lynch constantly thought about paying it forward, his assistant, caregiver and friend Jim Mains said during the service.

Between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. almost every day, the 94-year-old Lynch could be found at his desk, meeting with important people and continuing to shape his vision for the community, Mains said. When he traveled, he chose to fly in coach rather than first class, because even the few hundred dollars he saved on the flight could be given to a nonprofit, Mains added.

On the day Lynch died, Mains said he asked him if he had a message for his friends. Lynch, who often said he couldn’t accomplish anything alone, had his own thank-yous to deliver.

“Thank you, thank you,” Lynch replied. “I will see you soon. Always do good.”

Columbian Assistant Metro Editor
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