Father Ryan High School joins family and friends in celebrating the life of John Murray Lynch, Jr., a member of the historic Class of 1955, who died last night at the age of 83. His work and presence as student, athlete, teacher, coach and assistant principal over a 38-year teaching career at Father Ryan earned him the respect and appreciation of multiple generations of Irish students.
Murray Lynch was born to wear Father Ryan purple. His father, John M. Lynch, Sr. ’35, helped establish the Irish reputation and Lynch legacy during the early years of the school’s existence. The Lynch family tree includes Murray’s brother, Nicky ’56 (deceased), his daughter Janice Lynch McCaddin '88, his sons John ’80 (Brenda ’80), Michael ’90 (Erin), and Thomas ’94 (Lindsey), and several grandchildren who are graduates, students, or future Irish.
Enrolling at Father Ryan in September of 1951, Coach Lynch, as he was most frequently called, left a strong mark on the campus. An accomplished athlete, he played football, basketball and baseball for the Irish. He and his classmates began their senior year in September 1954 by making history. When school opened, they welcomed African-American students from Immaculate Mother Academy and other area schools into the classrooms and become the first integrated school in the city and the South. When Murray reunited with classmates – white and black – in 2014 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of that event, they laughed about competition on the court, lessons from the classroom, and the lifetime friendships that were formed among that special class.
President Jim McIntyre reflected on his legacy in announcing the news. “Murray Lynch deeply loved two things: his family and Father Ryan.” Mr. McIntyre said, “Murray was an icon of the school and one of the school’s favorite sons. Murray and his beautiful bride, Sissy, were fixtures at Father Ryan events, especially those involving his grandchildren. As an educator, Murray understood the complexities of leading a historic institution like Father Ryan. Those of us in leadership benefited from his support, love, and kindness. As we pray for his family, we thank him and them for all he provided and all he continues to mean to Father Ryan.”
After graduation from St. Bernard College in Cullman, Alabama, in 1959 and advanced studies at Peabody College, Coach Lynch joined the Father Ryan faculty in 1960, teaching Economics. He assumed the position of Assistant Principal in 1969 with responsibility for school discipline, and many a student made certain that he or she did not land in Mr. Lynch’s office. He continued in this position through his retirement in 1998.
Principal Paul Davis '81 adds, “I am indebted to his support and the respect he showed me when I moved into his position in the summer of 1998 upon his retirement. He was consistent in checking on me each time he was on campus. For that I am grateful. I will miss him and his stories of old at Father Ryan. His love for our alma mater was unwavering.”
He was widely respected for his coaching skills, serving as an assistant football and basketball coach. He assisted Coach Bill Derrick ’48 with a number of memorable basketball teams in the 1960s, including the 1963-64 team that integrated sports in Tennessee and the 1964-65 squad that toppled the mighty Pearl High School. He became the head basketball coach in 1968 and led the Irish to the state Final Four in 1974 before stepping down in 1976. He continued coaching football through 1985.
Funeral arrangements are pending. Please keep Murray's family in your prayers, and may his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.