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Swampscott coaching legend Dick Lynch dies

Dick Lynch, at last fall's Marblehead-Swampscott old-timers dinner. (Item file photo)

Dick Lynch, one of the most important architects of Swampscott High’s two-plus decades of football dominance, died Sunday at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Lynch joined head coach Stan Bondelevitch in 1954 as an assistant coach and offensive coordinator, and stayed there until 1973, when he became Danvers High’s athletic director. Lynch, who was 91, also coached the Big Blue boys basketball team to a victory in the old Tech Tourney at the Boston Garden in 1968.

“When he spoke, people listened,” said his son, Mike, who is WCVB-TV, Channel 5’s principal sports anchor. “He was very much respected as a coach. When he told you something, he didn’t have to tell you twice.”

“I was so fortunate to have coached with him,” said longtime friend and colleague Frank DeFelice. “We shared the same office, and he was a mentor. I worked alongside of him, and I learned a lot from him. He guided me along pretty well.”

According to Bob Jauron, whose book “Big Blue Days” was recently published, Lynch was a tough taskmaster who provided the principal direction for Swampscott’s historic football run, which saw five undefeated seasons, and, at one point, a 32-game unbeaten streak.

“He wasn’t a big guy,” said DeFelice, “but boy, he was among the most mentally rugged persons I ever met. He battled sickness, setbacks, and he was so tough. This saddens me.”

But for all his toughness, Mike Lynch said, his father valued the friendships he made, and the successes of his players, more than anything else.

“He never measured anybody by the size of their wallet, their bank account, or their portfolio,” he said. “He wasn’t a great trophy collector.

“His trophies,” Lynch said, “were the people he coached and how they turned out as citizens, as fathers, employers or employees, and how they conducted their lives.

“He didn’t invest in the stock market. He invested in friends and relationships. The stock market could go up and down, but his investment (in his friends) always had a steady incline. He was most proud whenever someone came up to him and said ‘you changed my life.'”

Mike Lynch was a quarterback, basketball and baseball player for Swampscott’s Class of 1971. He was one of many luminaries who went on to have successful careers both in college and professional sports, as well as in the business world. They included Bill Adams, Dick Jauron and Tom Toner, all of whom played in the NFL.

But, Lynch said, “my father cut me from the basketball team in my sophomore year because he didn’t want to play favorites.

“Later that season, the Winthrop coach (Henry McCarthy) was scouting us and came up to my father afterward. ‘Who’s that No. 25 on your JV team?’ he wanted to know. ‘Why?’ my father wanted to know. ‘He’s better than half your varsity,’ McCarthy said.”

However, Lynch is quick to point out that, “I have a brother (Terry) and two sisters (Maura and Tara) who were very good athletes and are very good people.”

But, he said, playing for his father was a challenge sometimes.

“I didn’t get my driver’s license until late,” he said. “So if we had a good practice, he’d drive me home. If we had a bad practice I walked (from the high school on Greenwood Avenue to the bottom of Banks Road).”

Aside from his four children, Lynch also leaves his wife, Joanne. Both were Lynn natives, with Lynch having attended English High. He was a close friend of the late Harry Agganis while they were both at Boston University.

“He fought until the end,” said Mike Lynch. “Just like he always told us to do.”

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