By Kim Tolley
Senior Contributing Writer
With family, friends, community leaders, former employees and public officials in attendance, Columbus said goodbye to its “Godfather” Amos Lynch last weekend.
Braving the heat and waving church fans, approximately 200 mourners at the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church on the Near East Side listened to memories of Lynch, who died on July 24 at the age of 90.
Several speakers cited Lynch’s service to the community. The annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast that he helped found in 1986 has provided scholarships for seminary students.
“In 1991, Amos Lynch walked into my office unannounced and grinning with a $10,000 check from the MLK birthday breakfast,” said Lawrence Carter, a professor at Morehouse College in Atlanta.
For over 20 years, the money from what became the King/Lynch/Gilyard scholarship has been used for future pastors from Morehouse. Recipients have gone on to work on easing tensions between communities in towns such as New York, Baltimore and Greenville, S.C., and the police. “Millions of dollars have come into the chapel to bring peace on earth,” said Carter.
Keeping his eye on the clock, Shiloh’s pastor Dr. Otha Gilyard urged speakers, particularly his fellow clergy to keep their comments to two minutes. Following Gilyard to the podium Reverend Leon Troy evoked laughter from the crowd when he retorted, “I’m 89 years old. I’ll talk as long as I want to.” Troy reminded those in attendance that the day was for celebration and not mourning.
Lynch helped found three influential African American newspapers during his long career. Starting in 1949, he worked as the editor for the Ohio Sentinel before leaving for The Call and Post in 1962 where he remained for 33 years. In 1995, he became a first time publisher at the age of 70 when he started The Columbus Post.
Lynch’s son David recalled his father’s dedication to making sure his papers were published and the community received its news. He shared his memories of driving down to Cleveland with his father to deliver the paper to the home office if they couldn’t get it on the last bus leaving Columbus.
Throughout the service, Lynch’s penchant for serving and mentoring others was mentioned repeatedly by speakers.
Mayor Michael B. Coleman recalled spending Saturdays in Lynch’s office before he entered politics. The editor lectured Coleman continuously about various aspects of life in the African American community.
“A godfather is someone who protects and promotes you,” Coleman said. “Amos was our voice. Folks couldn’t go anywhere else to find out what was going on in this community. Young African American anchors are on TV and in the newspaper because of Amos Lynch.”
Several speakers remembered Lynch as tough but fair noting that he used the paper as a resource to get things done.
“He was firm but flexible,” said Gilyard. “He would write you up. If you did it, he put it in the paper. As a result, there were some days when some didn’t care for Mr. Lynch but he loved people. He and the paper were one. He made that breakfast through the paper.”