Longtime peace advocate dies after being struck by car

Ever since she was a child, Sister Rosemary Lynch took comfort in daily morning walks.

She maintained her routine when she moved to Las Vegas in the late ’70s. Friends and colleagues said she liked to explore her community and examine all its nooks and secrets up close.

On Wednesday, the 93-year-old Franciscan sister and longtime peace advocate was struck by a vehicle while taking one of those walks. She died Sunday night at Nathan Adelson Hospice.

“She loved her walks. She did it for exercise and health reasons, but it was more than just that,” said Peter Ediger, Las Vegas office manager of international organization Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service, which Sister Lynch co-founded in 1989. “It was a walking meditation.”

Sister Klaryta Antoszewska, 78, first met Lynch in Rome in 1962, she said. They reunited in 1968 or 1969, and lived together until Sunday.

She was with Lynch on Wednesday on her last walk, when a “young kid” in a cul-de-sac backed into the women in a central Las Vegas neighborhood, Antoszewska said. Lynch fell and cracked her head on the sidewalk.

She was taken to Valley View Hospital and Medical Center, and her kidneys failed over the weekend. She was placed in hospice care Sunday and died that night.

Las Vegas police are investigating the incident and have not released details.

Lynch was an uncommonly forgiving woman who would have never blamed anyone for the accident, Antoszewska said.

“She would not have any kind of negative feeling toward him (the driver of the car),” she said. “Everything was forgiven on the spot.”

Lynch was born in Phoenix in 1917. It was here that she would ride her bicycle to the edge of town and walk in the desert. According to a church biography, she also fell in love with the Franciscan parish she attended. In 1932, she joined the Sisters of St. Francis of Penace and Christian Charity, where she taught grade school.

In 1960, she was sent to Rome by her local congregation, where she became part of the central leadership team and remained for more than 15 years.

During that time, she made visits to her congregation’s provinces around the world, including Indonesia, Mexico and Africa.

“The exposure to the other cultures and countries makes you more sensitive and understanding and ready to help,” said Antoszewska. “She always said, ‘Never judge, because we don’t know what’s going on inside of someone else.’ ”

When she settled in Las Vegas in 1977, she quickly became an advocate against testing nuclear weapons in the Nevada desert.

She’d often walk into the desert and pray, sometimes with a friend, but often alone. She believed that bombs were the common enemy of all mankind, she often said.

Despite her views, she became friends with Nevada Test Site workers, who could not resist her passion, Ediger said.

“They differed with her on the issues, but they recognized and appreciated her spirit very much,” he said.

Sister Antoszewska said everyone touched by Lynch’s hand remembered her.

Lynch still received letters and pictures from families of students she taught more than 50 years ago, she said.

“They would send boxes of pictures of kids and she wouldn’t even know who they belonged to sometimes,” said Antoszewska. “But she kept every picture.”

As she approached her 90th birthday, she told Review-Journal columnist John L. Smith that she still spoke five languages and had forgotten several others with the passage of time. And she talked optimistically of the people of Las Vegas.

“There are so many good, well-meaning people here,” she told him. “There are people who don’t have very much but are willing to share. There are beautiful and authentic people who, somehow or another, managed to gravitate together. There are thousands of sturdy people who are doing their best in a culture that’s not very encouraging. That’s kind of how I look at it.”

A memorial service will be held at
4 p.m. Jan. 23 at Saint James the Apostle Catholic Church, at 1920 N. Martin Luther King Blvd.

Contact reporter Mike Blasky at mblasky@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0283.

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