Born Mamie Ruth Holder in Winthrop, Ark., on May 9, 1932, and departed this earth on June 4, at the age of 88. Mamie was a woman ahead of her time and a true trailblazer. Mamie was offered a contract with a women’s professional traveling basketball team, The All-American Redheads, prior to finishing high school. The school allowed her to begin traveling with the team at mid-season and then return in May for graduation. You can imagine the amazing experience of a rural girl, who had scarcely been out of her county, getting on a bus and meeting up with the team in Montana. Her team played over 200 games a year, always against the best men’s team local towns could put up. The Redheads were part comedy and basketball trickery, but they were also highly skilled players. She played two seasons with the Redheads, still managing to graduate valedictorian, before moving to Colorado with her family where she met and married Doug Lynch.
Shortly after her children were born, Mamie became a working mother. In 1958, she started working for the Archuleta School District as a secretary and quickly became one of the few women in the role of school finance manager in the state. Mamie worked for the district for over 20 years and was known for her financial acumen and tight budget controls. I’ve been told that if anyone in the district got a note in red pen saying “see me” signed Mamie R. Lynch, you knew a budget issue was going to be firmly discussed.
Around the time of her retirement from the district, an effort had been initiated to build a new high school gymnasium. Mamie’s financial skills in securing bond funding and a repayment plan within an existing budget was so impressive to district leadership that the gym, now the middle school main gym, was named after her. If you attended basketball games in the ‘60s at the original Pagosa High Gym, you’ll remember that Mamie was a fixture there serving as the official scorer for all basketball games over many years.
Upon retirement from the schools, Mamie started her second act and it was a grand one. She ran for Archuleta County Commissioner in the mid-1980s and won, becoming the first woman to be elected to that position in this county. She loved the work and thrived in this new role. She was known for being a good listener, a highly principled decision maker and a true nonpartisan servant to the community she loved. After a string of victories in many of life’s arenas, Mamie was defeated when she sought re-election by some outside carpetbagger whose name I can’t recall. This is worth mentioning because it illustrates the amazing resilience she displayed throughout her life. After sitting out of politics for a few years and entering her 70s, she decided to run again. She was a tireless campaigner, knocking on every door in the county, and then won for a second time. Mamie would say that being commissioner was the best job she ever had. She always spoke most fondly of serving with Bob Formwalt and Jerry Martinez because politics took a back seat to doing what was best for the county.
During those years between commissioner terms, Mamie also served as the executive director of the Chamber of Commerce and served on the school board and the Mary Fisher Hospital board. Mamie was a charter member of the Round-up Board at LPEA and is still remembered fondly for her compassion and dedication. Mamie was a devoted Rotarian and served the club as president. She was also grand marshal for the Fourth of July parade on two occasions and was executor of the Ruby Sisson estate and managed that scholarship fund for two decades.
When not working and serving in these public roles, Mamie grew a fantastic garden and used her early evening gardening sessions to relax and de-stress. She took great pride in her garden as she did every other aspect of her life. Many have admired her bountiful garden on Hermosa Street, with one observer noting, “only the Anasazi and Mamie Lynch can grow corn in this climate.”
Mamie was a one-of-a-kind grandmother who was always up for cooking, teaching and playing endless hours of board games. She truly was always willing and eager, whether that was making homemade ice cream, fried green tomatoes or calzones the size of your head. She always joked, but never followed through on selling grandchildren to the circus. Mamie was a sounding board for her grandchildren, listening without judgment and giving sage advice. There was no wound or hurt that she could not assuage. She was someone who always made things better.
Quiet times on winter evenings were spent knitting, reading and doing puzzles. Up until the last weeks of her life, her mind was sharp as a tack and she exercised it by completing the crossword puzzle published in The SUN every week.
Mamie will be deeply missed by her family and everyone that knew her and her memory will live on for all of us who love our families and believe in serving the community in which we live; she is everlasting.
Mamie was one of 10 children and is survived by sisters Thelma McMinn and Francis Homan. Her children are Loretta Parks, Linda Cahill, Steve Lynch, Bob Lynch (Livia Lynch) and Patty Wagner.
Her grandchildren are Nicki Parks, Steve Cahill, Chris Cahill (Catie Cahill), Jamie Cahill, Jessica Lynch, Mesa Lynch, Cade Wagner and Kelsey Wagner.
Great-grandchildren are Jordyn Parks, Miles Cahill, Olivia Cahill and Alec Cahill. Many nieces and nephews always enjoyed spending time with their “favorite” aunt.
She is preceded in death by her husband, Douglas Lynch; her son, Steve Lynch; two infant sisters; her parents, Robert and Jewel Holder; and siblings Mozelle Herman, Mabel Dunnigan, Robert Holder, Florence Hovland and Roy Holder.
A celebration of the amazing life Mamie lived will be held later in the year when we can gather safely in her yard on Hermosa Street. The family will post a notice when a date has been set.