AMOS LYNCH: A Lasting Legacy
Writer. Editor. Publisher. Businessman. Civil Rights Advocate.
When writing about Amos Lynch, Sr., it feels as though one is not including enough information about his remarkable life and career no matter what the word count is.
When Lynch founded the Columbus Post in the last weeks of 1995, he had long earned the moniker “Godfather” of Columbus. At an age where most people would be content to bask in their retirement, Lynch continued to take on new challenges and competition in a town that, at the time, had at least three black newspapers and four black radio stations.
Lynch died on July 24, 2015, at the age of 90 after battling Alzheimer’s disease. Even as he receded from public view over the past few years, Lynch left a big impact on the city of Columbus.
Born in 1925 to Herston H. Lynch, a dentist, and Beadie Adeline Hollingsworth Lynch, the future “Godfather” attended South High School in Columbus. After a stint in the military and a half-hearted attempt at a pre-med program at the Ohio State University, Lynch began his professional journalism career by working at local papers doing everything from writing to soliciting advertisements. Eventually, he co-founded the Ohio Sentinel in 1949. In 1962, he teamed up with William O. Walker, the publisher of the Cleveland Call and Post, and joined the Columbus edition of the paper. He would serve as the editor of the Columbus Call and Post for 33 years covering civil rights, education, politics and business.
In 1995 citing financial problems with the office in Cleveland, Lynch founded and became publisher of the Columbus Post bringing most of the staff of the Columbus Call and Post with him.
In his over 50 year career, Lynch received numerous accolades. He was inducted into the Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame in 2011. The King Arts Complex honored him with the creation of “The Amos H. Lynch Plaza” located in front of the arts complex on Mt. Vernon Avenue. He and his family created The Ohio Champions of Diversity Awards to highlight and recognize the contributions of individuals and corporations who demonstrate outstanding efforts in diversity. He has an Ohio Champions of Diversity Award named in his honor as the Amos H. Lynch, Sr. Legend Award. A special presentation in honor of Lynch will be held on September 23, 2015 at the 5th Annual Ohio Champions of Diversity Awards Luncheon.
Lynch was married for 54 years to the late Geraldine Anderson Lynch. He had three children, Amosizinna Scott, David Lynch and the late Amos Lynch, Jr. He also has 4 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.
Lynch’s surviving children recall their father was dedicated in everything he did.
“His loves were the newspaper, the community and his family,” his son David stated in an interview with the Columbus Post. “Whatever he did, it wasn’t halfway. It was always 100 percent. He would put in extensive hours at the Ohio Sentinel, the Call and Post and the Columbus Post making sure the community had the best information.”
His daughter Amosizinna Scott remembers Lynch as a loving and caring person and says she cherishes the time they spent together. “We’d sit in the president’s box at the OSU football games. I enjoyed spending that time with him because he was always so busy putting out fires.”
Ms. Scott says her father demonstrated the rare quality of being formidable without becoming overbearing.
“He could command respect without raising his voice or acting crazy,” she said. “I would go to his office and watch him in awe.”
His admirers say Lynch’s impact on Columbus and its residents cannot be overstated. He launched the careers of many aspiring journalists including award winning writer Wil Haygood and writer/historian Hiram L. Tanner, the dean of black sports writers. His endorsements of public servants led to the election of, among others, Mayor Michael B. Coleman.
In 1986, Lynch along with Dr. C. Dexter Wise III helped establish the MLK Breakfast Celebration which continues to this day. For a time, he orchestrated the annual King Classic Football Championship Game which was played between championship teams of black colleges and universities.
During his career, Lynch became known for his advocacy for better housing, political and job opportunities for African Americans.
Ray Miller, the president of the Columbus Association of Black Journalists and a former state senator, credits Lynch’s commitment in opening doors for Columbus’ African American residents.
“Amos operated in the real tradition of an African American newspaper man,” Miller told the Columbus Post. “He understood the need to communicate our, the African American, story. He demanded respect for African American people in the presentation of our story and our worth in economic terms. A lot of people were the beneficiary of his strong position on economics. His leadership helped integrate the banks in Columbus at a time when there were no Black tellers, customer representatives or marketing people. He demanded representation.”
In addition to his community, political and business activities, Lynch found time to mentor his young staff. Lynch’s former employees recall how his service extended to the average resident seeking assistance on every issue and fostered a sense of family both in and outside the office.
“When he gave me my start in 1983, he would have me come in on Saturdays,” said Ray Thornton, former operations manager for both the Call and Post and Columbus Post. “The entire town knew Mr. Lynch was in on Saturdays and he would get calls from everywhere, from everyone about everything. They would be calls mainly for assistance dealing with legal, community, church or government problems. He would get out the city directories, the many years of phone books, typed phone numbers he had collected on every blank spot of a piece a paper he could find. In most cases, he had it memorized in his head, or at least where he could find it in the many stacks of papers and books in the firetrap known as his office. He would get back to the person, if they weren’t still on hold or assign someone, namely me, to track it down.”
Mark Cardwell, now the assistant executive director at the King Arts Complex, says he will always be grateful to Lynch for giving him his first professional opportunity in marketing.
“There’s this great fraternity of people who worked for him who have strong bonds thanks to the late nights spent pulling the paper together,” Cardwell said. “What always comes to mind is his incredible work ethic. I thought I knew how to work hard but he worked really hard. It was difficult to keep up with him at times. His commitment was paramount. That really inspired me.”
The push for representation also benefited others in Lynch’s field. In a 1996 interview with this writer, Lynch noted a change in perception towards black media and reporters as he progressed in his career.
“In my early years of sports reporting at OSU, I had to walk the sidelines with a scratchpad trying to imagine a scenario in which our photographer was taking pictures,” he said. “The White guys were in the press box at the top of the stadium. So I’ve seen a lot of changes.”
In the same interview, voicing his hopes for the future of Columbus black media, Lynch expressed a desire for his younger employees to take a more aggressive stance in shaping the Columbus Post.
“It’s a struggle for me to let go and give up some control. But it’s necessary because the future lies with them.”
In 2003, Lynch decided to give up full control and retire. He sold the Columbus Post to Alan W. Sorter, president & CEO of Freedom Media Group, Inc.
“Mr. Lynch was a pioneer in our industry,” Sorter said. “After his many years with the Call and Post, I’m glad he decided to start the Columbus Post in 1995. It gave our company an opportunity to continue his legacy when we purchased the Columbus Post from him in July 2003.”
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, August 1, 2015, at Shiloh Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio. The family will receive visitors from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. The funeral will begin at 10:00 a.m. The family has requested that in place of flowers, donations in memory of Amos H. Lynch, Sr. be sent directly to Alzheimer’s Disease Research, 1379 Dublin Road, Columbus, Ohio 43215.
In his long career, Amos Lynch, Sr. mentored and encouraged a number of Columbus residents in media, business, and government. Below some share their memories and reflections.
Mayor Michael B. Coleman
I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Amos Lynch. Amos Lynch was known to some as “the godfather” because of his ability to touch and influence the lives of so many through his journalism and involvement in the Columbus community. I considered him to be one of my mentors, and was always grateful to have his support over the years. My thoughts are with his family and friends during this difficult time.
Congresswoman Joyce Beatty
Amos Lynch was a great community leader, entrepreneur, and media visionary whose life and works had a deep and profound impact on our community. The publications he spearheaded and the journalism he inspired continue to inform and engage our communities on the critical issues of our time both in Columbus, Ohio and across the nation. The community will always remember his leadership, energy and passion. His legacy continues through the largest MLK breakfast in the nation and in Black print media. My deepest condolences go out to his family and our community.
Janet E. Jackson, President and CEO, United Way of Central Ohio
Amos Lynch was beyond a mentor to me throughout my career. He was trusted advisor for decades and I deeply feel his loss. He is a legend in Columbus and across Ohio not just because he was a visionary entrepreneur and communicator but because he brought a deep care for people and community to everything he did. He created an important voice for the African American community and his legacy of leadership is a stronger, more diverse Columbus for everyone. He lived a life of service that transformed the lives of thousands and that is the greatest tribute anyone can receive.
Jack Harris, publisher of the Columbus Communicator
He worked tirelessly to serve the Black community. He was a fearless competitor but I don’t like using the word competitor since we both sought to help the community. He was a great role model and a nice person. We had a good relationship over the 30 years I’ve been here.
Mark Cardwell, assistant executive director at the King Arts Complex
I saw a real and serious commitment to the community making sure young people had opportunities. Amos did it because it was the right thing to do and it would advance our people. The newspaper was a social good not just an economic one. He was synonymous with the Columbus Black community. It’s a huge void because we don’t have a lot of leaders like that.
Charles Farmer, former sports editor for the Columbus Post
He created opportunities for many and used stringent tactics and discipline to teach young people about all aspects of the newspaper and publishing business. Mr. Lynch was able to get things done and could bring people together from all circles who would gladly respond to his requests. Now that’s true power. His influence will be greatly missed.
Amosizinna Scott, daughter
I tell my grandchildren that if you do an article for school, write about your great-grandfather. He’s done so much for the community especially the grassroots people. I would come to town and meet him at the Marble Gang restaurant for a one on one lunch and it would turn into a neighborhood gathering with people asking for things to get done but I loved watching that.
Ray Thornton, former operations manager Columbus Post
Before there was Google, before there was 311, there was Amos Lynch at his manual typewriter with a four-line phone. I wanted to be in newspapers since I was 12-years old and he was the only one that gave me a chance in this town. It wasn’t until the weekends in the office with Mr. Lynch did I understand why I wanted to be a newspaper man… to serve and to make a difference.