By Lisa Whaley
for The Erwin Record
In their youth, they were known around Erwin as the Lynch mob a group of rambunctious brothers growing up in a 1950s East Tennessee railroad town.
Today, with younger brother, Johnny Lynch, now mayor of the town of Unicoi and his other younger brother, Greg Lynch, mayor of Unicoi County, Ted Lynch Jr. has bowed to the inevitable and joined todays new Lynch mob.
Hes going into politics.
Normally, the younger ones follow the older ones, Lynch said recently during an interview at his favorite Jonesborough hangout, Hardees. This time, the older one is following the younger ones.
Lynch is running as an independent for a seat on the Washington County Commission representing the 6th district. Election day is on Aug. 5.
He and his brothers have always been close, so it hardly seems unusual to him that they should all end up in the political arena. But Lynch also credits the pull to community service partly to their parents and partly to the town in which he grew up.
The sons of Texie and Ted Lynch Sr., Lynch said that he and his brothers were blessed with tremendous encouragement from home.
My parents always supported us, Lynch said. From a rock-and-roll band in the garage during a time when rock-and-roll was often viewed with suspicion to encouraging them to pursue their various dreams, Texie and Ted Lynch made sure their sons knew they could do anything.
That was true even when their inspiration came from the local cinema. We lived two block from Main Street in town, Lynch said. And every Saturday we would got to the movies for 9 cents each.
If it was a Western, the boys would come back and play cowboys and Indians. If it was a military flick, they came back as soldiers. They knew whatever they wanted to be, it was within their reach at least for that Saturday afternoon. As they grew, they knew many more things were within reach for life.
More importantly, however, Lynchs parents taught him to care about others. We just had that kind of family, he said. And it was a different time. It was a railroad town filled with railroad people. You were really involved in things to help your community and the people in it.
When the time came to leave home, Lynch chose to attend East Tennessee State University where he received a bachelors degree in social welfare. He married a Carter County girl and eventually settled in Washington County. He took a job as a probation and parole officer with the state, where he worked for 30 years before retiring in 2005.
While acknowledging that a career as a probation officer may not have been the easiest profession to choose, Lynch said he still enjoyed his years working throughout the nine-county region he covered gaining intense satisfaction doing what he believed could make a difference in the lives he encountered.
The way I looked at it, I had good people on probation, Lynch said. They just made a mistake.
Still, when the time came to retire, I had all intentions of fishing and playing golf, Lynch said. But something else soon caught his attention. After serving on the Washington County Regional Planning Commission and the Jonesborough Planning Commission, Lynch began to see how working in politics could really be just another way of helping others.
He talked to his wife, Brenda. He talked to his brothers. They said go for it, Lynch said. And into the race he went.
Today, Lynch is philosophical about the question of the outcome of the election. Win or lose, Im gonna try, he said in his characteristic, easy-going manner.
After all, he said, this is still about helping people.
The tax burden is so high. Weve got to buckle down. It will take a while, but people are hurting. Well just have to cut out the fat.
Lynch said tries to be as straightforward as he can. And he always wants to be fair. He also has no patience for elected officials using their positions to further their own agendas or for ignoring the questions or needs of their constituents.
He just wants to be there to help Washington County through this tough economic time. And he is committed to serving a region he loves in whatever way he can.
That is a trait, he believes, that truly characterizes todays Lynch mob.