Joseph Lynch, in a family photo

The family of Joseph Lynch gathered Saturday to celebrate his life at one of his favorite places, Horserace Brook Campground near Millinocket.

They stood in a circle in Nesowadnehunk Deadwater lake and laughed and cried, sharing memories of him. His loved ones each took a handful of Lynch’s ashes and released them in the water.

“This is where he wanted to be,” said his daughter, Colleen Baker. “Early in the day, we cooked a meal on the open fire. It was beautiful. It was beautiful to share that with my grandson, Lucas, who called him ‘The Old Man.’”

Mr. Lynch, who died July 9 at age 76, was remembered by his family as a colorful and adventurous guy with a passion for the outdoors.

He grew up in a family with eight children in Portland’s Bayside neighborhood. He was a 1962 graduate of Portland High School and a standout on the school’s track, basketball and golf teams.

Mr. Lynch was a boilermaker and member of the Local 29 from the late 1970s to 1989. He worked primarily in paper mills across Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. It was during this time that Lynch developed a love for the outdoors.

“He had an opportunity to check out Baxter State Park and the area,” Baker said. “He was all excited. He told my mother… ‘You got to get out here with the kids.’ We ended up renting a cabin out there. We took a lot of trips out to Baxter State Park as kids.”

Janie Lynch, his wife for 31 years, would pile their three kids in the car and visit him at job sites near lakes and camping areas. Baker recalled the summer they spent at Maidstone Lake in Vermont.

“It was gorgeous,” she said. “I think I was 12 years old. We had a cabin and a little motorboat. He would let us kids take off in the boat.”

She also remembers trips to Crescent Beach State Park in Cape Elizabeth.

“He would sit at the campsite and man the grill,” she said. “He would have a baseball game on. Us kids would be running all over the place swimming, catching crabs and stuff like that. He would be right there with his newspaper, reading it front to back.”

Around 1990, Lynch fulfilled a years-long dream of backpacking and tenting in Alaska. He worked as a custodian at Gray/New Gloucester High School from 1990 to the early 2000s. He also worked at the Milestone Recovery shelter in Portland.

Mr. Lynch and his wife lived in Cumberland, where they raised three children.

He was described affectionately by his two daughters as a rebel and a badass who lived life to its fullest. He went fishing a lot, camping too. Baker said he loved to gamble and go to the horse races. She said her father frequented bars and shot pool to make money.

He spent the past five years or so at Biddeford Estates, an assisted living facility. He endured a years-long struggle with lung cancer and heart disease.

“The nurses would say he’d take off and go to Hannaford to buy cigarettes and alcohol. He had a girlfriend. That was his gig,” Baker said. “He was a renegade. As he got older, he was going to do what he wanted to do.”

In May, he went to live with his other daughter, Peggy Lynch, and her partner, Gregory Christy, in Poland.

Peggy Lynch said the move was unexpected. She said Christy went to visit her dad and he was waiting outside the assisted-living facility holding a trash bag stuffed with clothes. He wanted to leave and go home.

“Greg said, ‘Your dad is out here with a bag thinking he’s coming home. I don’t want to leave him here,” Lynch recalled. “He was crying.”

The next day, Mr. Lynch left the facility to live with his daughter. He stayed until he died.

Peggy Lynch said he never said a bad word about anyone, and he never complained.

“He would ask me how I was doing in the morning,” she said. “I’m like, Jesus, you’re barely breathing here … The strength he had with everything going on was tremendous. I asked him too, how are you handling this? He said, ‘Well, you know, Peggy. You just don’t think about it. Every day you get up and make it the best day you can.’ He really did that.”

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