DETROIT – It is with saddened hearts that the Detroit Red Wings announce the passing of a beloved member of our organization and hockey family, Mr. Frank Joseph James ‘Budd’ Lynch. Budd, the longest-tenured employee in Red Wings history at 63 years, passed away this morning after a brief illness at a local rehabilitation center. He was 95-years-old. Budd is survived by his six daughters Janis, Valerie, Mary, Francey, Patricia and Lori.
Born in Windsor, Ont., on August 7, 1917, Budd Lynch began his broadcasting career shortly after finishing high school when he joined the radio station CHML in Hamilton, Ont., in 1936. After one year at CHML, Budd moved to CKOC in Hamilton, covering both the news and sports. Lynch put his broadcasting career on hold in 1939 when he volunteered to serve in the Canadian Army as a young Major of the Essex Scottish Regiment in World War II. In 1944, he lost his right arm and shoulder at the hands of enemy fire shortly following the D-Day invasion at Normandy. Despite the injury ending his field service to the infantry unit, Lynch decided to put his broadcasting skills to work and he contributed to the BBC throughout the remainder of the war.
Once he returned from overseas, Lynch resumed his radio career and was hired by CKLW in his native Windsor to be the play-by-play voice of the Windsor Spitfires and the Sports Director of CKLW. He called Spitfires games in 1948-49 before being hired away by WWJ in Detroit. It was then that Detroit general manager Jack Adams suggested Lynch should call television games for the Red Wings, a position he started during the 1949-50 National Hockey League season. Over the next five seasons, Lynch had the pleasure of calling four Stanley Cup championships in the Motor City (1950, ’52, ’54 and ’55). He handled the play-by-play action, while men such as Fred Huber and Sid Abel helped with the color commentary. In 1960, Al Nagler, the radio play-by-play voice of the Red Wings, stepped down from his position and Lynch assumed the role. Gene Osborn and then Bruce Martyn provided color commentary for Lynch on radio broadcasts, a position he held for the next 15 years. After 25 seasons in the television and radio booths, Lynch attempted a retirement but was brought back to the team by general manager Alex Delvecchio as the director of publicity. He served in this role until a second retirement attempt failed in 1985 and Lynch was asked by Marian Ilitch to stay on as the team’s public address announcer at Joe Louis Arena. Lynch was in this role for each of Detroit’s last four Stanley Cup runs (1997, ’98, 2002, ’08).
“Budd Lynch was a dear member of the Detroit Red Wings family and legendary icon of our community,” said Red Wings’ owner Mike Ilitch. “Hearing Budd’s voice on the radio and over the public address at Joe Louis Arena was something that every Red Wings fan looked forward to and loved. His calm, friendly and distinguished voice was symbolic of who Budd was as a person. He always had a smile on his face, an upbeat spark in his voice and a kind and encouraging word for everyone he met. The Red Wings, our fans and the entire hockey world will miss Budd’s renowned voice, but most of all we will miss a dear friend. Marian and I, and our entire organization, extend our deepest sympathies to Budd’s daughters, loved ones and the entire Lynch family.”
Budd received numerous awards and accolades for his career accomplishments and his outstanding talents as a radio and television broadcaster. In 1985, he was honored by the NHL Broadcasters Association with the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award at the Hockey Hall of Fame. Nine years later, Lynch was enshrined into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame. In 2005, he was given the Ty Tyson Award for excellence in broadcasting by the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association. Lynch chronicled his illustrious career and all that he witnessed in his time with the Red Wings by compiling the book “My Life: From Normandy to Hockeytown” in 2008. The Red Wings host a group of 20 military veterans and active members on leave at each Red Wings home game in the Budd Lynch Veterans Suite, named in his honor in 2009.
“Budd Lynch will forever be synonymous with the Detroit Red Wings,” said Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland. “He experienced it all in his 63 years with the organization – from the glory days of Howe, Lindsay, Abel and Delvecchio all the way to the championship runs of Yzerman and Lidstrom. He had a vast knowledge of the game and the stories he could tell would have anyone who loves the sport mesmerized for hours. Budd was one-of-a-kind, not only in his talents as a broadcaster, but in the way he lived his life and the upbeat attitude he always carried. He will be sorely missed by everyone in the Red Wings family.”
Read Commissioner Bettman's statement on the passing of Budd Lynch