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Unforgettable Characters: Lifelong villager Adelaide Lynch had strong bond with mother

May 10, 2011

NORTH KINGSTOWN – When I was contemplating who would be a good subject to recall as we approach Mother’s Day, Adelaide Lynch instantly came to mind.
Known to everyone as Adie, she was a tiny force of nature in Wickford, a kindly woman who was passionate about animal rights, an early practitioner of power walking and an enthusiastic and celebrated bridge player.
It was impossible to pass through town in any season of the year – in all sorts of extreme weather – without seeing her bustling along on her rounds, spreading good cheer. As she aged, her commitment to the outdoors caused Adie’s face to assume the crinkly appearance of a rustic antique doll.
She owned a lot of rental property throughout the village in some of the early and interesting houses. I still run into people who tell me that when they were young, they lived in one of Adie’s apartments.
Adie was a creature of habit, following a regimen designed to nourish her spirit and promote physical fitness. It was her practice to step into St. Paul’s Episcopal Church for a moment of quiet prayer and reflection before setting out on her long daily walks.
In many ways, she was a surrogate mother to every stray creature that crossed her path, refusing to stop until she’d found them good homes. I once wrote that Adie could slip you a kitten faster than a process server delivering papers.
At her funeral service, attended by what was essentially the entire village, everyone was suppressing their grief pretty well until a church staff member walked his dog up the aisle in silent tribute to Adie’s dedicated work on behalf of all animals.
As one, the congregation burst into tears. Adelaide Lynch was a well-loved woman in her community.
Thirty years ago, when she was 68, Adie sat down with me to talk about her mother, Edith Mason Dawson, who had died in 1970. Among her mother’s legacies was the habit of keeping a diary: she had kept one faithfully for 34 years and, when I spoke with Adie, she was writing in her own 40th volume.
I was intrigued by the fact that Adie recalled specific conversations with her mother from years in the distant past and that she still followed Mrs. Dawson’s advice. Clearly, she loved her mother but she always respected who she was and what she stood for.
How many children hold their parents in such regard?
Adie said, “When I was young and I would ask my mother why I had to do something, she’d say ‘Because it’s good for your character’ and that was the end of the discussion. Even today, at my age, I find that when there’s something I really don’t want to do I think, well, it’s good for my character.”
Her husband, Bob Lynch, told me that he found that Adie and Edith shared the same even temperament which was a great gift “over the long haul.”
Adie smiled when describing her mother.
“She was a Yankee. She was gentle, a lady; she never swore. I still think of her all the time. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t think of her. When I’m in the car alone – and this may sound crazy – I’ll talk to my mother. I tell her how Bob is, how the grandchildren are doing.
“If you have a good relationship, they’re always with you.”
Adie was incredibly wise about the importance of time in the shared life of a mother and daughter: the necessity of communication, knowing how to say goodbye and believing that death is not the end of love.
“We had a lot of fun,” she said of the special bond she shared with her mother, “but I’m not sad she’s gone. There are no regrets because I didn’t leave anything undone or unsaid. There’s a lot of sorrow in people who wish they’d said or done something before it was too late.
“I have a loving feeling. We had a wonderful relationship.”

Martha Smith is an award-winning journalist and author. Retired, she is an independent contractor for Southern Rhode Island Newspapers and can be reached at

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