James Patrick Flynn was born in Gettysburg, PA on April 9, 1952, the son of George Noel Flynn, a mailman, and Mary Rebecca Flynn, a homemaker. He was raised in Gettysburg with his three siblings, Mike, John (who all shared a bedroom growing up), and Mary Ellen (to Jim: “Soul Baby”), all of whom he was very close with throughout his life. Jim’s Mom Becky was renowned in the neighborhood for her delicious iced tea, and so began Jim’s lifelong obsession with the beverage. The boys spent their days outside playing sports. Jim shined on the basketball court (his father was semi-pro, and Jim could shoot with the best of them), but his true love was baseball. As a boy, Jim listened to Cincinnati Reds baseball on the radio. A lifelong love for and loyalty to the Big Red Machine blossomed. Jim attended Bloomsburg College in Pennsylvania where he graduated with a B.A. in English and Sociology.
Post college, Jim caught the eye of the lovely Sandy Wenk. After a touch-and-go first meeting, Jim’s sense of humor and abilities as a raconteur won her over. Jim was working the counter at 7-11 when he began dating Sandy (no one is quite sure how he pulled that off, Sandy is a total babe). Naturally, the 7-11 job transitioned into a position at the Central Intelligence Agency, where Jim worked for 42 years. Sandy and Jim dated for six years before marrying at St. Francis Xavier in Gettysburg in 1980. Soon after marrying, the two moved to San Francisco, CA for Jim’s job and the California sun. In 1982, they had their first child, Kathleen Flynn (to Jim: “Little Katie”). After two and half years in San Francisco, and a developed appreciation for the San Francisco Giants, the family moved to Reston, VA. Three years later Patrick Flynn (to Jim: “Plowboy”) was born. Two and half years later Thomas Flynn (Jim didn’t have a good nickname for Tommy) was born. While living in Reston, Jim took the kids to Baltimore Orioles games where they could watch Cal Ripken in action. In 1991 the family moved to Naperville, Illinois, where all of the kids were put to the batting practice test at “Flynn Field” in the backyard. Despite living in the suburbs, Jim worked in Chicago and manifested a blind and unexplainable hatred for the Chicago Cubs and their fans (Cubs fans spent the whole time going to the bathroom, Jim was there for baseball). After living in Chicago for two and a half years the family went Euro and moved to Frankfurt, Germany. The family traveled around Europe during the three and a half years they lived in Germany and Jim developed a keen taste for Schnitzel and German beer.
In 1995, the family moved back to Reston, VA, into the same house they had previously lived in. Jim spent the next ten years being pretty much the best dad ever, coaching his kids’ sports teams, attending all of their countless baseball, basketball, and soccer games, providing a rec room with lots of soda and snacks for the neighborhood kids while making dry, sarcastic comments that everyone loved. His legend grew. In 2005 the Montreal Expos came to Washington DC and became the Washington Nationals. Jim had a baseball team in his backyard and, without compromising any loyalty to the Reds, Jim began to root for the Nats. Eventually, the kids went off to college and Jim and Sandy continued to support their sports endeavors by attending Katie’s softball games at Seton Hall University and Tommy’s baseball games at Mount St. Mary’s University.
For Father’s Day, Sandy and the kids would take Jim to a different baseball stadium each year. It is one of their favorite traditions and guest appearances from John Flynn and “Unckey” Mike made the trips especially enjoyable for Jim. In his younger years, Jim went on baseball trips with his buddies and although Jim wasn’t able to make it to all the stadiums, he got pretty darn close.
Jim worked for the Central Intelligence Agency for 42 years – and traveled to as many as 60 countries across five continents. We would write more about his time in the Agency, but as an international man of mystery, he didn’t speak much about work. He did, however, talk about how much he loved going to work every day, the mission of his agency, and the talented people that he got to call colleagues and friends.
On December 13, 2017, Jim died surrounded by his family. He lived an extraordinary life.