Dr. James K. Flanagan died September 3, 2012

Jim Flanagan began his Notre Dame career at the same time we did.  After graduating from Seton Hall in New Jersey, he began his graduate studies and his teaching in the fall of 1964.  His freshman English class included Tom Condon and Mike Baroody, whose liking for this energetic, encouraging force from Jersey City, NJ attracted numbers of us.  While earning his doctorate, Jim began teaching at St. Mary’s College and then continued for a year or two after earning the Ph.D.  He wrote his dissertation and, later, one of his books about the playwright Arthur Miller.  But his achievements and his significant learning were always subordinate to the ambitions he fostered in his students.  After returning to New Jersey, he taught at Monmouth College and settled nearby with his family. Bravely, he and his wife Pat raised their children Kevin, Patrick and Rachel (a future Notre Dame grad) after the two divorced.  Jim wrote the novel “The Crossing” and began teaching in an Asbury Park middle school serving kids with more problems than advantages.  He had found his place for an energetic career of teaching, writing, storytelling, parenting, local politics and community involvement.  At his house, after his funeral, children darted among aunts, cousins, neighbors, siblings and former students telling stories of the great man who died of a heart attack on Labor Day, 2012 at the age of 72.

In April, Jim wrote a letter that his daughter Rachel had coaxed out of him.  His advice to his five grandchildren caught his voice and provoked the attention of his neighbors first, then readers around the world.  The two-page letter included here has appeared in an Irish newspaper and has been discussed on Australian attention.


4 thoughts on “Dr. James K. Flanagan died September 3, 2012

  1. Thank you for remembering and acknowledging the life and legacy of my father. He was a superlative person. His unintended global letter continues to resonate and was just republished in Germany last week. I have future plans for the manuscripts that he left in my custody …many of which track his coming -of- age as an Irish, Catholic young man in the 1960’s. I provide my contact information below for anyone who knew him or has interest in his works:

    Rachel (Flanagan) Creighton – ND ’92
    mobile: 732-241-6333
    7 Lawrence Avenue
    West Long Branch, NJ 07764

  2. Pingback: A Grandfather’s Last Letter To His Grandkids | kosmosindo

  3. This man was one of the most influential people I have met in my entire life. I had the privilege of being a student of his in middle school and in high school in AP English Lit. He was a master story teller and was one of the most captivating people ever. He was ahead of his time. A man like him in this era of Ted Talks would have been something to see. I still think about him all the time. He is missed.

  4. Not one day goes by in which my only regret in life is that Dr. Flanagan never truly got to see the powerful impact he bestowed on me and how much of MY LIFE started in his classroom in Asbury Park High School. Doc (as we called him) inspired me to flourish in my poetic truth, one in which I never even considered to be a path until he came along and showed me to be confident in my abilities. Now i stand today, a spoken work professional who has seen many of stages and competitions, workshops, school assemblies and for thousands to marvel in awe. I OWE that to Dr.Flanagan and soo much more. I can hear him now, “aye Tee, You need a few bucks?” Things like that to a kid living in a household where drugs ravished by childhood and force me to find escape through other outlet. Doc cared, when nobody knew I was there. Even from middle school he saw my potential and continuend to push me to write and write and write. I do the same to my clients, patients and students whenever possible. I will never stop keeping his memory alive.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.