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William P. Lynch, founded Depew Saints Hockey Club

Aug. 9, 1935 – Dec. 5, 2017

William Patrick Lynch Sr., founder of the Depew Saints Hockey Club, died Tuesday in Sisters Hospital. He was 82.

Born in Toronto, the son of a U.S. customs agent, he attended the former St. Francis de Sales Elementary School in Buffalo and St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute.

He left high school to enlist in the Air Force during the Korean War and served in the medical corps in Tripoli. Returning from service, he attended the University of Buffalo.

Mr. Lynch became a petroleum products salesman for Atlantic Richfield, then formed his own company, The Lubricator, selling lubricants to repair shops. Later he changed careers and worked with troubled youth in Conners Residential Treatment Facility and the Methodist Home for Children, now Gateway-Longview. He retired in 2000.

He coached numerous teams at St. Barnabas School, Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament School and Catholic Central School. He also organized a baseball team at St. Ann’s Church and was a founder of the Depew Saints Hockey Club, an outgrowth of the OLBS hockey program.

“He felt the need for something for the boys in the community to do,” his daughter, Bridget Herod, said. “He believed in keeping them busy because he didn’t have that as a boy.”

His son, Brendan, said that his father got involved in youth hockey after repeatedly seeing a group of boys playing a pickup game on a patch of ice near Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament School.

“He pulls up one day and they’re all in mismatched gear,” he said. “The kids had figure skates and they had baseball gloves for the goalies. He said to them, ‘Guys, don’t you have anywhere else to play?’

“So he takes it on himself and he talks to the Village of Depew about starting a league. He built it into this powerhouse machine. He loved the team and the hockey, but it was much more about the kids.”

Before their home rink in Depew was built in 1971, Mr. Lynch and a group of volunteers had to take young players to Lockport, Fort Erie, Ont., and Niagara Falls, Ont., for early morning practice sessions.

“The whole idea of the Depew Saints was a dream of mine,” he told an interviewer on the club’s 45th anniversary in 2014. “I wanted to give it a shot and give the kids an opportunity to play organized hockey. Once I saw that the kids would get up at those early Saturday morning hours, I knew they were hooked.”

In 1965, he was one of the 35 founding members of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, now St. Martha’s Parish, in Depew. He was chairman of the first Holy Name Society convention in 1971 and was honored that year Holy Name Man of the Year.

His daughter noted that he was “a believer in ‘love your brother as yourself,’ ” and was proud of having been arrested and jailed in Montgomery, Ala., while he was in the Air Force in 1958 for putting his arm around a person of color, a man, during a night on leave.

Survivors also include his wife of 57 years, the former Barbara Smielinski; another daughter, Bonnie McElligott; another son, William P. Jr.; a sister, Kathleen “Kay” Hohlstein; and eight grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in St. Martha Parish, 10 French Road, Depew.

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