Services will be held Sunday, July 21, for Steve Lynch, 74, of Center City, a jobs training coordinator and outdoorsman who died May 14 of complications from Parkinson’s disease at Wesley Enhanced Living at Stapeley in Germantown.
Mr. Lynch was born in Red Bank, near Chattanooga, Tenn. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Dartmouth College and a master’s degree from the Yale Divinity School in 1970.
That same year, intent on pursuing a career in education, he moved to Philadelphia to enroll at Temple University. He taught briefly at Tilden Middle School in Southwest Philadelphia and Conwell Middle Magnet School in Kensington.
During the mid-1970s, Mr. Lynch completed a master’s degree at Temple and was aiming for a doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania, when instead, he took a job in Camden setting up training programs for unemployed adults and helping them find jobs.
He worked for the Camden County Employment and Training Office which was funded by CETA, the Comprehensive Employment Training Act of 1973.
“A friend from Yale who was in charge of that office called and said, 'Do you want to come over and work for me?” said his longtime friend Daniel Coyle. Mr. Lynch did, and continued helping adult learners until retiring in 2012.
Although he loved Center City, Mr. Lynch was most at home at his cabin in rural Schuylkill County, 30 miles west of Pottsville. He liked to chop wood for the fireplace and search the woods and fields for plants and flowers that he carefully collected.
“He became a master in identifying wildflowers and knowing all the different kinds of native ferns,” Coyle said.
Mr. Lynch attended auctions and bought folk art, including carvings and quilts. He picked through the bins at antiques markets, looking for old postcards.
He also collected books, illustrations, maps, and memorabilia reflecting Philadelphia’s history. Coyle said Mr. Lynch asked that his collections be donated to the Athenaeum of Philadelphia, a library and museum where he read and attended lectures.
In the 1990s, Mr. Lynch was active in the Rittenhouse Coalition of Churches, an informal union of St. Mark’s Episcopal, First Baptist, and the Chestnut Street Unitarian churches. The coalition brought in grants to refurbish the three church buildings.
Mr. Lynch became a Unitarian Church member and the church photographer.
“At First Unitarian, Steve Lynch was particularly good at making guests and new members feel welcome,” said Heather Speirs, who recalled his hospitality and friendship. “Not only would he seek out those with new name tags to chat after service, but he would often invite them out later for coffee or a brunch date, particularly if they were new to Philly.
“He took photos of each new member to post on a board at the back of the church. Steve also invited those of us who were new to the church auction to a brunch at his home, and to join him on various architectural excursions in the city.”
Coyle described Mr. Lynch as gregarious and good-humored.
“He had a devilish fancy for really corny, down-home jokes and really terrible puns,” Coyle said. “He never said a nasty comment about anyone and never what they call in the South cuss words.”
Mr. Lynch was active in Philadelphia’s gay community and often attended fund-raisers at the William Way LGBT Community Center.
He is survived by a brother, Malcolm.