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Lynch Manley honored for his work with Lifesaving Crew

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By John Barnhart

Lynch Manley’s nearly half century of service to the Bedford Lifesaving Crew was honored at the crew hall last week when Congressman Robert Hurt presented a flag, flown over the Capitol, to Manley’s wife, Julie.

    Manley, who died in March, was still running calls in 2013 at the age of 80, driving the ambulance.
    According to John Messier, who joined the crew when he was 16 and has been a member of the Crew’s board of directors, Manley ran 20,000 calls during his 48 years of service.  Messier said Manley ran 40 percent of all crew calls.
    This could be tough on his wife. Julie Manley recalled many disrupted meals.
    “I couldn’t remember the number of times he’d go out and I’d try to keep a meal warm,” she said. She never knew when he’d be back and it was frustrating.
    Then, there were the middle of the night calls.
    “Every time I got to sleep he was either going out or coming in,” she recalled of one night.
    It was tough on Lynch, too, as he had to get up early and go to work.
    “I don’t know how he did it,” Julie commented.
    Julie remembered one call Lynch ran that was particularly awful. An airplane crashed and there was no rescue possible. Julie said all the crew could do was pick up body parts.
    “I wouldn’t have the stomach for that,” she said.
    Lynch Manley had a special talent for taking new junior members and showing them the ropes, encouraging them. Messier ran his first call with Lynch.
    “Lynch trained me,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Randy Krantz. Krantz also joined the crew at the age of 16 on Aug. 3, 1976. The experience led him to become an emergency room nurse before he took up law.
    “He was very humble,” Krantz recalled.
    Krantz said being a member of the Lifesaving Crew as a teenager was valuable experience. It makes it possible for teens to do something worthwhile in the community.
    “It helped us discover our meaning in life,” he said.
    Some junior Lifesaving Crew members, like Krantz and Jim and John Messier, have gone on to become community leaders.
    “It was people like Lynch Manley and Julie Manley that enabled us to do it,” he said.
    Michael Abbott Jr., represents the last group of junior members Lynch trained. Abbott, now 18, joined the Crew at 16 and ran calls with Lynch.
    “Lynch was a big inspiration to me,” he said. “I saw the dedication he had.”
    Abbott said Lynch pushed the junior members to do their best. He also had a knack for cheering them up when they were down.
    “He’d  boost my confidence,” Abbott said.
    Abbott will graduate from Liberty High School this year and is a member of the Virginia National Guard.