Mass of Christian Burial
Final Resting Place
Obituary of Kathleen R. Flynn
Kathleen Flynn, 81, of Madison, NJ, passed away peacefully with her family by her side on May 9th, 2023.
Born at 2:13am on September 1st, 1941 to Catherine (Early) and Daniel J. O’Neill, Kathleen Rose O’Neill burst into the world at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, NY, their third and final child. Educated at St. Margaret’s School in Riverdale, Kathleen continued her studies at Sacred Heart Academy, followed by Marymount College in Tarrytown, NY, where she completed a bachelor’s degree in political science, a subject that would serve her well in later life. She was a regional and NY state champion in extemporaneous speaking.
As both parents were Irish immigrants, Kathleen made five crossings during her childhood in order to spend summers in Counties Kerry and Tyrone, and while at Marymount was set up on a blind date with another first generation Irish American, John (Jack) Michael Flynn. They were married on October 26th, 1963, at St. Margaret’s Roman Catholic Church in Riverdale, NY. Kathleen chose a vocation as a lifelong teacher, following her passion to serve while using her gifts of communicating and inspiring others. As their family grew, Jack and Kathleen moved from Riverdale to Rochester to Briarcliffe, and before long chose the Lake Valhalla neighborhood in Montville, NJ, as their home, where they made lifelong friends and loved to entertain.
Kathleen dedicated herself to her new community, teaching religion to high school students, running a youth tennis program, leading the great books program at William Mason School, producing community variety shows (Valhalla Follies), and hosting the annual St. Patrick’s Day party for decades. The Flynn house on West Lake Drive was the epicenter of fun, where games of football, wiffle ball, basketball, and kick the can were played rain or shine.
Katheen and Jack had four children who were blessed with a wonderful community and family, including twenty-two first cousins. Life was about as good as it gets, until it wasn’t. On December 21st, 1988, the oldest son, J.P. Flynn, at the age of 21, was murdered along with 269 other innocents in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
Kathleen immediately applied all of her energy, heart and skills in a fight for justice, a mission that she helped lead even when others grew weary of the thirty-year-long slog. Kathleen was a tireless advocate, helping to organize protests, writing dozens of op-eds, and appearing on hundreds of television and radio news programs in order to keep the focus in front of the American people. Kathleen met with senators, members of congress, cabinet secretaries, FBI directors, and four U.S. presidents. She testified before the U.S. Congress and the Committee on Foreign Affairs. Because of her deep knowledge and leadership skills, she was asked to serve as a Commissioner on the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security (The Gore Commission).
Once two of the suspects were finally arrested and put on trial a grueling eleven years after the bombing, Kathleen and Jack spent months at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands bearing witness to the proceedings. Though battling breast cancer at the time, Kathleen never complained or took her eyes off the goal of securing justice for J.P. and those who perished with him.
Because of Kathleen’s efforts, aviation security was improved, and lives saved. Pan Am was held accountable and forced into bankruptcy. Libya was held responsible and forced to pay restitution. One of the bombers was convicted and imprisoned, and one co-conspirator is going on trial in the United States later this year. Justice was done, if never finished.
Though ever the crusader, Kathleen prioritized family, and was an amazing grandmother to her nine grandchildren. Whether it was hosting many birthday parties and holidays, serving as their biggest sports fan, or leading them in the old soft shoe, “KK” has left an indelible impression on all of them. Even after being afflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease at far too early an age, Kathleen proved to be resilient–some might say stubborn–through Covid and other ailments, and was always delighted to see her grandchildren visit. Her sharp wit, easy laugh, love of a good party, self-effacement, intellectual curiosity, keen sense of injustice, generosity of spirit, and ability to debate both sides of any subject at the same time lives on in all of them. They are her true legacy. (Especially CeCe.)
Kathleen is survived by her husband, John Michael Flynn, her sister, Margaret O’Neill Henshaw, her three children: Brian (Amy Scheibe) Flynn, Kerry (Rico) Mariani, and Christine (John) Regan, nine grandchildren: Bo Flynn and Hedda Flynn, Brendan, Sean, Gabriella, and Cecilia Mariani, and Quinn, Callum, and Devin Regan, and many, many nieces and nephews.
Relatives and friends are kindly invited to attend a Mass of Christian Burial for Kathleen which will celebrated at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, May 16, 2023 at St. Vincent Martyr RC Church, 26 Green Village Road, Madison, NJ. Those who wish to attend the mass virtually may do so by visiting www.svmnj.org
Interment will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, May 17, 2023 at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Hawthorne, NY.
In lieu of flowers, please help in the fight against Alzheimer’s and support KK’s Warriors: https://alznj.akaraisin.com/ui/walktofightalzheimers2023/p/38f8e960df1b4a67bfeb5e24877c93da
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