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Bill Lynch’s productive life celebrated

Herb Boyd | 8/22/2013, 11:54 a.m. | Updated on 8/22/2013, 11:54 a.m.
Delivering the eulogy for Bill Lynch Jr. at Riverside Church last Thursday, the Rev. Michael Waldron of First Corinthian Baptist ...
Bill Lynch's Funeral

Delivering the eulogy for Bill Lynch Jr. at Riverside Church last Thursday, the Rev. Michael Waldron of First Corinthian Baptist Church said there were no words to capture the great man’s majesty, but the good reverend came close. “Bill Lynch was a transcendent soul,” Waldron told the overflow crowd, which included the rich and the poor. “He was a mighty river pouring into others … so self-effacing that you were embarrassed to be arrogant.”

Waldron conjured up mythic and biblical metaphors as he evoked the memory of a man who shunned the spotlight, content to be an adviser—a wise counsel behind the scenes.

“And without Bill Lynch, none of us would be here,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said, after noting the presence of “President Clinton and her husband, Bill.” “He was the glue that held us together. He taught us how to get things done.”

Getting things done was uppermost on Lynch’s agenda; he joined the ancestors on Aug. 9 from kidney disease. He was 72.

In the VIP section of the church was a host of politicians and civic leaders who had benefited from Lynch’s political acumen, including the Clintons, Rep. Charles Rangel, David and Basil Paterson, Elinor Tatum, Ben Jealous, Hazel Dukes, Council Member Inez Dickens, Bill Thompson and, most notably, David Dinkins.

“He was the greatest man I’ve ever known,” said Dinkins, recalling how significant Lynch was in guiding his campaign to become New York City’s first Black mayor. “He was driven by ideals, fairness; he was a loving husband, a devoted father, a man of character.”

Lynch’s daughter Stacy, an attorney, reminded the audience how her father was often referred to as the “rumpled genius,” indicating his disregard for sartorial splendor. “That’s one of the things they called him, but to me, he was just Dad, and he showed me I could be anything I wanted to be.”

Stacy’s brother Bill Lynch III said, “If I can be half the father he was to me, I’ll be all right.”

During her moment at the podium, Hillary Clinton touched on Lynch’s gravelly voice, which was always “full of concern and insight.” “I saw him at his best as a trusted adviser,” she continued. “He was a numbers guy before computers and always ahead of the curve.”

Bill Clinton said that one look in Lynch’s eyes told him all he needed to know about the man’s way of taking things in. “‘You don’t have to perfect, but you have to deliver,’ he once told me.” Clinton had anticipated what Lynch’s lifelong friend Floyd Harris had to say about Lynch, who “always had a plan to make it happen.”

Newly appointed South African ambassador Patrick Gaspard, who once worked under Lynch, recalled his mentor and his devotion to teaching the young people who came under his tutelage. “Sometimes folks would ask him how he was able to bring about a political victory, and he would say, ‘I was hoping you would tell me,’” said Gaspard. His presence symbolized the role Lynch played in Nelson Mandela’s victorious presidential campaign in 1994.