Commodore Steve Harris – January, 2018
We’ve been wrong all these years!
According to the plaques hanging in the fireplace room honoring all the Commodores of BLYC, and most of our lists of Past Commodores, Charles D. Lynch was Commodore for two years, 1907-1908. However, I recently discovered that he was actually Commodore for three years – through 1909.
Our first Commodore, Lawrence Sackett, was elected at the first organizational meeting of the Club in April of 1906. He only served until that fall, when he declined to run again so he could better focus on running his business. (He would later serve two more terms as Commodore in 1919 and 1920). In the fall of 1906, Lynch was elected Commodore and, although mostly forgotten about today, he was apparently a driving force behind the early success of BLYC.
Born in 1882 in Indianapolis, Lynch was raised in Bridgeport, Connecticut where he entered the banking business after graduation from high school. He relocated to Columbus and was a founding member of the Club. At that first meeting, he was elected to be the Club’s Secretary and his first charge was to draft our first Constitution & By-Laws. He led the charge in the fall of 1906 to gain the admission of BLYC to the Inter-Lake Yachting Association and was elected to their board that same year. He was a member of the crew of Floating Debt, Caleb McKee’s sloop, that sailed a fateful trip from Toledo to Put-in-Bay for the I-LYA Regatta in 1907, which I wrote about a few years ago (available in the history archives on the BLYC website.) He led the campaign to build our first Clubhouse in 1907 and was a founding member of the Buckeye Lake Building Company that funded the effort. After serving as Commodore of BLYC, he was elected Rear Commodore of I-LYA in 1910 and Vice Commodore in 1911. It is not known why he never became Commodore. He had, at that time, relocated back to Indianapolis and one might presume that distance alone prevented him from being able to assume the duties of the office. In 1914, he moved to Detroit and became a member of the esteemed Detroit Yacht Club. DYC Historian, P/C Edwin Theisen, informs me that Lynch was very active at DYC in the early part of the twentieth century and an integral part of their race committee, although he apparently never held an office, at least not that of Commodore, in the Club. He was a successful businessman in Detroit and highly respected for his leadership and integrity. He also remained active in I-LYA for many years to follow. In December of 1916, he helped to form the Inter-Lake Yachtsmen’s Fund — the charitable foundation associated with I-LYA that provides funding for youth sailing, racing, and boating education throughout our region — and was elected their first Chairman. He was also very active in the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) and served on the U.S. Olympic Swimming Committee for both the 1920 and 1924 games. It is without question that he was a leader in yachting and aquatic sports throughout his lifetime. He even holds a U.S. Patent for a “flexible staff holder” used to display flags on boats — presumably for race committee signals.
Lynch’s service to BLYC, however, was of particular note. Upon his “retirement” as Commodore in the fall of 1909, having ably led the Club through its infancy, he was presented a silver loving cup in appreciation of his service. The following summer, he would relocate to Indianapolis. The Club held a farewell party on Beech Island in his honor. The speaker for the event was “Uncle George” Watkins, President of the State Board of Public Works, and the man for whom our island is now named. In his remarks, Watkins thanked the Club, and Commodore Lynch in particular, for their efforts in getting needed improvements made at Buckeye Lake. He then presented Lynch with a solid gold watch chain bearing the Club emblem “as a slight token of the very great esteem in which the club members and their friends at large hold him.”
It is not known what became of Commodore Lynch in later years. His name appears in the 1948 BLYC membership directory, having remained a member of the Club he ably led in his younger years, presumably until his death.