One of the victims of the worst mine disaster in the United States in the last forty years is a Glenville State College graduate. William Roosevelt Lynch of Oak Hill, West Virginia, was one of the twenty-nine miners who were killed in a horrific explosion at Massey Energy’s Performance Coal Company Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County, West Virginia on Monday, April 5th.
After graduating from Collins High School in Oak Hill, Lynch was recruited to play basketball at GSC for the Legendary Jesse Lilly, Jr. During his college career, Lynch played on two WVIAC Championship Teams (1970, 1972). The 1972 Pioneer basketball team advanced to the NAIA Tournament in Kansas City, Missouri where they beat Missouri Southern before being eliminated in round two by Augustana 76-75. Some of his teammates included GSC Hall of Famers Jackie Joe Robinson, Earl Hawkins, and Steve Datcher. Lynch graduated from GSC in 1972 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education with a specialization in Physical Education.
“What I remember most about ‘Rosy’ is what an absolutely great person he was. His coaches and teammates had great respect for him as a person and as an athlete. He was certainly an integral part of some outstanding GSC teams,” said former GSC Assistant Basketball Coach and Hall of Famer Tim Carney.
Lynch was a longtime teacher and coach at Collins Middle School and Oak Hill High School. During his career, he coached basketball, football, and track and field. At age fifty nine, he was still very athletic and was a regular competitor in basketball leagues.
Roosevelt’s son, Roosevelt Lamon ‘Mon’ Lynch, is also a GSC alum. He was recruited to play football for the Pioneers but a serious knee injury ended his playing career. Lamon graduated from GSC in 2001 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Sports Management.
Lamon and Melvin Lynch, Roosevelt’s brother, also work in the Upper Big Branch Mine. Lamon was working a different shift and was not in the mine at the time of the deadly explosion. Melvin was in the mine but was able to escape the blast.
William Roosevelt Lynch is survived by Geneva, his wife of thirty-seven years, son Mon, daughter Miki, three grandchildren, one brother, and two sisters.
A candlelight service to honor the William Roosevelt Lynch and the other fallen minors will be held at the Glenville State College Amphitheater on Tuesday, April 20th at 9pm.
The West Virginia Council of Churches has established the Montcoal Mining Disaster Fund and is now accepting donations to be distributed among the families of miners who were killed in Monday’s explosion at Performance Coal Company’s Upper Big Branch mine. Anyone who wishes to make a monetary contribution should contact the West Virginia Council of Churches at 304-344-3141 or visit http://www.wvcc.org/ for details.