Raymond Francis Lynch, 87, of Cranford died on February 17, 2021. Devotion to family, love of God and loyalty to country were the principles that guided him throughout his long and remarkable life. His affability and charm made him beloved by those he met, always quick with a story or anecdote, a song or smile.
Born in 1933 in Elizabeth to William and Eva Simaitis Lynch, the fifth of six children, he grew up poor but had a rich and happy childhood, attending St. Patrick’s grammar and high schools. A 1951 graduate of St. Patrick’s High School, he was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 1998.
Raymond married the love of his life, Barbara Caffrey, in 1952. Together they raised their children in Elizabeth and were active members of St. Genevieve parish. They made lifelong friends through the church bowling league, the Holy Name Society and the Rosary Altar Society. They later settled in Cranford.
He was a proud Marine Corps veteran, serving as sergeant and jet aircraft mechanic in the Reconnaissance squadron VMJ-1 and the First Air Wing at Kimpo and Pohang during the war in Korea in 1952-3. “Semper Fidelis” was a motto he embraced throughout his life. He was quick to help anyone who needed it and he advocated for every cause he believed in. When he met a Vietnam veteran who was not receiving adequate treatment for a head injury suffered in combat, he lobbied tirelessly to persuade the government to provide funding to help him and others. Thanks to his efforts, the federal Head Injury Initiative was funded in 1991 and, to this day, veterans with brain injuries from combat receive the treatment they so rightly deserve. One of Raymond’s proudest achievements was receiving the Chapel of the Four Chaplains National Humanitarian Award for this successful campaign to ensure federal funding for traumatic brain injured veterans.
He also received the Marine Corp League Distinguished Service Award, the Cutting Edge award for his service to the Marines New Jersey Recruiting Service and was twice awarded the recruiters Certificate of Appreciation. He was service officer of the John Basilone Detachment of the Marine Corps League and a member of the parade committee, a member of the Marine Corps Aviation Reconnaissance Association, 1st Marine Division Association, Korean War Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Central Jersey Leathernecks, Catholic War Veterans and American Legion. He raised funds to erect a monument at his parish, St. Michael’s Church in Cranford, to honor Rev. Charles Watters, a priest and chaplain who died rescuing wounded soldiers in Vietnam.
For 15 years he worked at Exxon Research & Engineering Center in Linden as an analytical research technician supervisor and was president of the local Independent Laboratory Employees Union.
In 1971, he joined the Union County Prosecutors Office as an investigator and worked for 25 years at a job he loved. He was commander of the homicide, special prosecutions, major crimes and economic crimes units and led the Essex/Union Auto Theft Task Force and the Child Abuse Investigation Unit. He was director of in-service training at the John H. Stamler Police Academy, Scotch Plains, where he stepped into his natural role as teacher. He received numerous awards for his work, including honors from the NJ Bankers Association in 1981 for dangerous undercover work that led to the breakup of a fraudulent check ring that defrauded banks of millions of dollars. He retired from the Prosecutor’s Office as Captain of Detectives in 1996. He was a member of the NJ Retired Policemen & Firemen’s Association Local 3, and the Emerald Society of NJ.
After retirement, he and Barbara traveled extensively. They toured nearly every national park in the U.S., visited Ireland, Italy and Norway, and enjoyed many cruises. He was able to connect with his Lithuanian heritage when he worked briefly for the US Dept. of State, training police in the Baltic countries after the collapse of the Soviet Union. After the terrorist attacks on 9/11/01, he volunteered at the Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island, a forensic site for Ground Zero debris, and helped to identify the remains of those who lost their lives.
Although his other duties prevented him from completing a college degree, Raymond possessed a lifelong love of learning, attending Rutgers University, Union County College and New York University. He was an avid reader, writer and a great story teller.
A proud Irishman, honoring his heritage was a foundational principle of Raymond’s life. He was a member of the Joseph Nugent Sr. Association, and served on the committee for the Union County St. Patrick’s Day Parade for many years. The Nugent Association honored him for his achievements.
He was a loyal fan of the Giants football team through thick and thin, holding season tickets for 50 years and attending games with his friends at the Polo Grounds, Yankee Stadium, the Yale Bowl and the Meadowlands. One of Ray’s greatest pleasures was attending Super Bowl XXI in Pasadena and watching his beloved Giants defeat the Denver Broncos. He also enjoyed watching local high school sports at St. Patrick’s or Cranford high schools.
He had an enduring love of the seashore, teaching his young children and grandchildren about its natural wonders during summer vacations spent at Ortley Beach, Lavallette and Long Beach Island.
Raymond was a family man in the truest sense. His singular joy was time spent with family, and the Lynch home was a welcome gathering place for his children, grandchildren, extended family and dear friends who became family. Holidays, birthdays and family occasions were lively, daylong events shared in their home, filled with stories and laughter.
His family cherished him as a teacher, companion, role model, dance partner and a constant champion.
Raymond was predeceased by his parents, four siblings, William Lynch, Anne Swart, Mary Timmons and Eileen Mikusi, along with countless extended family and lifelong friends.
He is survived by his loving bride of 68 years, Barbara Caffrey Lynch; his brother Dr. Joseph Lynch and his wife Patricia of Glen Ridge; his devoted daughters, Linda Lynch Sheetz and her husband Richard of Lancaster, Pa., Marion Lynch and her husband Ken Lowenstein of Ocean Township and Nancy Lynch Genna and her husband Joseph of Toms River, and son Raymond Lynch. Mourning the loss of their beloved grandfather are Adrienne Sheetz Atlee, Sarah Mitchell, Christopher Hodge, Audrey Sheetz, Carolyn Hodge, Jeremy Lynch and their spouses and partners. He also leaves behind his great-grandchildren: Fiona Atlee, Logan Hodge and James Mitchell, who will know him through the exceptional legacy he leaves, the honorable example he set and the stories told for years to come.
Services are under the direction of Higgins & Bonner Echo Lake Funeral Home. Visitation will be held at the funeral home from 4 to 8 pm on Thursday, February 25. A mass of Christian Burial will be held at 9:30 am Friday, February 26 at St. Michaels RC Church, Cranford.
The family requests that you honor Raymond’s memory by protecting your loved ones and community from Covid-19.
Donations may be made in Raymond’s memory to The Patrick School, 397 Columbia Ave., Hillside, NJ 07201; Center of Hope Hospice, 1900 Raritan Rd., Scotch Plains, NJ 07076 or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, stjude.org.
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