Joseph P. Flanagan, 85, of Columbus, OH (formerly from Broadalbin, NY), passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family on November 9, 2017. Joe was born April 18, 1932, in Springfield MA, to George Flanagan and Teresa Sheehan, and was the sixth of ten children. He graduated from Springfield’s Cathedral High School in 1948 at age 16; earned a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point in 1956; and received a law degree from Georgetown University in 1961 after which he became a patent attorney. Joe married Audrey Ann Kelly in 1956, and over the next thirty years Joe and Audrey raised eight children while Joe pursued his legal and teaching careers in Trenton, NJ, Falls Church, VA, and Amsterdam and Broadalbin, NY.
Joe had a cerebral and inquisitive nature that greatly influenced his life trajectory. At age 16, immediately after graduation, he set off for New York City, with $20 and no job prospects. Within 24 hours he had a job washing dishes and shortly thereafter he joined a traveling sales crew that covered all of New England, peddling magazines and sundries. At the age of 17 Joe and his friend Don embarked on a new adventure to California, crossing the country via a combination of hitchhiking and hopping box cars on freight trains. Joe arrived in North Hollywood, CA in June of 1949, working various service related jobs. While in California, Joe decided that a college degree would provide him more job opportunities but he had limited financial resources. Upon a suggestion from a family member he applied to, and was accepted into the California Maritime Academy in Vallejo where he gained valuable experience that would help him later in 1951, when he attended the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, NY. Joe spent the next four years traveling the world while completing the academy’s land based and sea borne curriculum. Upon graduation from the academy in 1956, Joe married his longtime sweetheart, and fellow Cathedral High Alumna, Audrey Ann Kelly. In 1957 Joe and Audrey began their family with the birth of their first child, Joseph P. Flanagan Jr.; and that same year Joe enrolled in Georgetown University’s law degree program. After graduating from law school in 1961, Joe joined the U.S. Patent Office in Washington D.C. In 1964, while traveling back to Springfield, MA for his Mom’s funeral, Joe responded to an advertisement in the Wall Street Journal for a staff lawyer position at Mohasco Industries in Amsterdam, NY. Shortly thereafter he was hired by Mohasco. Joe and Audrey and their four children moved initially to Amsterdam, NY, before finally settling in Broadalbin, NY. Joe remained with Mohasco for the next 24 years, eventually rising to the position of General Counsel for this Fortune 500 company. In 1988 Joe retired from Mohasco and entered into the private practice of law in Mayfield, NY. In 2013 Joe returned to California, with his loving companion, Justine Davidson, to escape the harsh winters of upstate New York. In 2015, with his health failing, Joe moved to Columbus, OH to stay with his beloved daughter, Diane, and her family.
Joe’s passions in life were reading, learning, studying history, swimming, and engaging with new acquaintances. With his quick wit, wry sense of humor, and razor sharp memory Joe was genuinely well liked by most everyone he met. Joe was known as the town “Mayor” — he knew everyone and everyone knew him — and he always had a story to tell. Joe will be sorely missed by friends and family, but perhaps not so much by the editors of the New York Times crossword puzzle. An avid Times crossword enthusiast, who always completed the puzzle in pen, and often as easily as “rounding the corner,” Joe would periodically contact the Times newspaper staff to challenge them on their crossword puzzle clues. According to Joe, in one notable exchange over the crossword clue “vending machine part” the Times puzzle editor was steadfast in his position that “slot” was in fact the correct answer. Joe disagreed, and asked the editor to kindly mail him a slot, so he could examine that so called “part;” at which point the Times editor conceded the point, and politely hung up!
Joe is survived by his brother, Richard of Springfield, MA; by his eight children, Joseph P. Flanagan Jr. of Dennis, MA; Eileen Flanagan Huber (Rob) of Lake Tahoe, NV, Diane Mckenna (Ron) of Columbus, OH, Mark Flanagan (Susan) of Chappaqua, NY; Paul Flanagan of San Diego, CA; Neil Flanagan (Angela) of Rye Brook, NY; Dean Flanagan (Janey) of Austin, TX; Laure Lee Flanagan (Fred) of Brewster, MA and by his loving companion, Justine Davidson of Sebastopol, CA. Joe was also blessed with 13 surviving grandchildren, Lauren and Craig Mckenna, Casey, Connor, and Corey Huber, Jack, Charlie, and Kelly Flanagan, Ryan, Kelsey, and Allyssa Flanagan and Audreyanna and Hazel Stoffel.
Joe was predeceased by his former wife, Audrey; by his brothers, George, John, Robert, Edward, Jerome; by his sisters, Mary, Joanne, and Ruth; and by his dear dog, Bertha.
A funeral mass will be held on Friday, November 24, at 11 a.m., at Our Lady of the Cape Church, Stony Brook Road, Brewster, MA. Burial will follow at Woodside Cemetery in Yarmouth, MA.