Patrick Lynch, Irish immigrant who served in the Army, refinished and upholstered furniture, dead at 92
He dreamed of being an electrical engineer and took courses, according to his daughter, but needed to work because of the responsibilities of his growing family.
To his family, Patrick Lynch was a horticulturist, cobbler, tailor, chef, artist, musician, builder and animal whisperer.
His yard exploded with the flowers he grew. His tomatoes were as big as cantaloupes, and he could feed birds from his hand by whistling and holding out a piece of bread.
As a young Irish immigrant, he was drafted into the U.S. Army during the Korean War. While serving, he learned to feed a crowd. Later, he often did the cooking at home, making delicious lamb or beef stew, spaghetti, fruit cake and Irish soda bread.
When his children were young, he’d sew them new pants and dresses, and he fixed their shoes with the skill of a cobbler, according to his daughter Marian Benson.
If they hurt themselves playing, he dressed their injuries and even stitched them up. “I thought when I was little he was a doctor,” she said.
At times, she thought he was a builder. In exchange for a break on the rent for the two-flat where his family lived, Mr. Lynch “put on a new roof,” his daughter said. “He painted the house. He put in new doors and windows, and he put in a white picket fence.”
Mr. Lynch, 92, of the Northwest Side, died last month of complications from lung cancer.
He dreamed of being an electrical engineer and took courses at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, according to his daughter. But with the responsibilities of a growing family, he worked as a furniture refinisher and upholsterer.
He was born on St. Patrick’s Day in Applehill near the village of Brideswell, several miles from the town of Athlone in County Roscommon. Little Patrick was one of 10 children born to Delia and Timothy Lynch.
At 18, he immigrated to Boston. By 22, he was serving in Germany as an Army radar repair specialist.
While in the military, he was struck by a crane. The injury caused lifelong pain to his knees and legs, she said.
In 1954, Mr. Lynch returned to Boston, where one day he was eating at a restaurant when Nora Dillon, an immigrant from Spiddal, County Galway, saw him and asked a girlfriend, “Who is that?”
“She just thought he was gorgeous,” their daughter said.
The Lynches got married and moved to Chicago, figuring it was a good place to find a job.
He refinished and repaired Steinway pianos for Lyon & Healy. Once, his daughter said, he visited the home of Mayor Harold Washington to spruce up a piano.
Mr. Lynch also did refinishing for Polk Bros. and Wallen Fine Furniture.
He liked to try his chances on the Illinois lottery and at the racetrack. He visited carnivals to win toys for his kids.
He once won tickets for the musical “Hair” and gave the tickets to friends. They weren’t happy when they discovered it featured nudity onstage.
At home, he grew beans, carrots, radishes, rhubarb and corn in his garden. He sketched pictures and played accordion and harmonica.
Mr. Lynch said the rosary every day and prayed to Saints Jude, Anthony and Francis. His favorite saint was Padre Pio, and he adopted his philosophy: “Pray, hope and don’t worry.”
His daughter said he often helped friends, regularly helping one neighbor to his car to ferry her to dialysis.
His son Patrick died before him. In addition to his wife Nora and daughter Marian, Mr. Lynch is survived by his son John, brother Sean, sisters Maureen Fullbrook, Jane Rocha and Pauline Porior, two grandchildren and a great-grandchild.
At his wake, relatives placed dimes in his coffin because he gave coins to kids so they could feel rich when they went to a candy store. His daughter also tucked in a scratch-off bingo card.
Services were held at St. Pascal Church. Mr. Lynch’s casket was carried out to a traditional tune that captured the homesickness of many Irish immigrants of his generation, “The Old Bog Road.”
“My feet are here on Broadway this blessed harvest morn
But oh the ache that’s in them for the place where I was born
My weary hands are blistered from work in cold and heat
But oh to swing a scythe again through a field of Irish wheat
Had I the chance to wander back or own a king’s abode
I’d rather see the hawthorn tree and the Old Bog Road.”