John William Flanagan, 85, passed away on May 27, 2021 at Leominster Hospital after a brief illness.
John was born in Clinton Hospital on August 26, 1935 and was the youngest child of Thomas F. Flanagan and Lillian (Wiles) Flanagan. He grew up in Sterling and spent many happy summers on his Uncle Jimmy's farm on Flanagan Hill Road. John attended Leominster High School where he excelled in athletics. He was a star three letter athlete in track, baseball and football, but his initials J.F. stood for Just Football. He was a triple-threat standout of the undefeated LHS 1953 football team as a kicker, punter and fullback. He was offered several Division I football scholarships, but opted instead to serve his country and enlisted in the United States Air Force. In 1958, he married Janet (Balboni) Flanagan while stationed at March Air Force Base in Riverside, CA. and was soon transferred to Okinawa, Japan. Upon completion of his tour of duty, he settled in Leominster, MA where he raised his family and lived for the remainder of his life.
He was father to daughter Paula (Flanagan) McMillan of Northbridge, MA, Shirley Buchanan-Skeen of RunningSprings, CA, and sons John J. Flanagan of Leominster, MA, Thomas E. Flanagan of Pomfret, CT, and Charlie Buchanan of North Brookfield, MA.
He enjoyed woodworking, inventing, soaring gliders, football, and traveling the world with his wife and
friends. But his greatest passion in life was his family and being actively involved in the lives of his children and grandchildren. He coached his sons' Pop Warner Football Team and went to every sporting event in which they participated, braving bone chilling frigid weather and sweltering heat.
He never missed a soccer match, football game, track meet, school play, talent show or piano recital that involved his children or grandchildren, including college events.
John was the quintessential Irishman with the knack for storytelling and a wicked sense of humor and salty language. But to those who knew him best, John's quick Irish temper turned from fiery intensity to humor in a flash.
John's legacy is his sense of humor which he possessed even in the final hours of his life. He was surrounded by family as we told stories and laughed with him and sent him to, in his words, his "blast off" with the knowledge that he filled our lives with immeasurable joy and love.
His parents, brother Thomas F. Flanagan, Jr, and sister Cecelia (Flanagan) Zola all pre-deceased him.
He is survived by Janet, his loving wife of 62 years, his three children, several grandchildren, and great grandchildren.
Visiting hours will be on Thursday, June 3, 2021 from. 4 - 6 pm at Richardson Funeral Home, 106 West Street, Leominster, MA.
Funeral Mass will be on Friday June 4, 2021 at 10 am at Holy Family Church, 750 Union St., Leominster, MA.
Memorial contributions can be made in John's memory to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital at www.stjude.org.
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