Bland Ministry Center staff and volunteers are mourning the death of longtime volunteer Lee Tynes. The 94-year-old died Saturday night.
Mr. Lee – as he was known around the center – came to work at the ministry center in February 1993.
“He liked to say he had six weeks of seniority on me,” said Dee Dee Hoosier, the center’s executive director. She said Tynes was a hard worker and protective of the female staff.
“He was so sweet. He would come every day and stay as long as there was a worker at the house. If he found out a lady was still in the house, he would stay in the warehouse until she left.”
Hoosier said the strapping Tynes was probably the strongest man she ever met.
“He could lift three 50-pound bags of seed potatoes at a time; he was so physically strong,” she said.
Mr. Lee volunteered at the center for nearly a quarter century, until 2017 when he was 92 years old. He would do whatever was needed – unload trucks, mow grass, etc. During his last decade at the center, he was in charge of packing up food boxes. He’d start working in the afternoon and work until 8 or 9 p.m.
“Because he wanted to do it by himself,” Hoosier said. “He was very possessive of his job at the food pantry. It was really sad when he stared slowing down at the ripe old age of 90. He and another gentleman, Bill Neal (who also has died), came in five days a week. They mowed the yard and took care of everything for many, many years. That was their job that they came to every day.”
Hoosier said visiting mission teams always asked about Mr. Lee.
“And he remembered them all by name,” she said. “I can’t even do that, but he remembered all of their names.”
Tynes was a native of Rocky Gap. He moved to Ohio when he was younger, where he worked for Ohio State University’s housekeeping department and drove a truck. When he retired in 1988, he came home and eventually started volunteering at the center.
“My first cousin, Viola, and her husband, Evan, asked if I wanted to come work with them here,” Tynes said during a surprise 90th birthday party the center staff threw for him in August 2015. “But after a year, they quit.”
But Tynes didn’t quit. He worked at the center seven days a week until he fell one day when he was there by himself. He slipped and cut his wrist and drove himself to the hospital. He had to have nine stitches.
With that news, the center board of directors decided to halt Tynes’ weekend work; he disagreed with the decision.
“When I told him, he got mad and stayed home for two weeks,” Hoosier said during Tynes’ birthday party. “He’s always done whatever needed to be done. He’s mowed the yard, drove a truck and picked apples. He’s a fixture here; everybody wants to know if Lee is here and how he’s doing.”
Online condolences have rolled in on the center’s Facebook page.
“He was one awesome guy,” wrote local pastor Thomas Maurer. “Heaven got a little sweeter.”
A graveside service will be held for Tynes at 1 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, at Hogan's Cemetery in Rocky Gap.
To reach reporter Millie Rothrock, call 276-228-6611, ext. 35, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.