Modesto Bee, The (CA) - July 24, 2007
NOV. 16, 1911 -- JULY 19, 2007

Tom Flanagan departed on his last flight July 19, 2007, at 10:35am with his beloved family by his side. His destination is HEAVEN and he is God's Co-Pilot.

John Thomas Flanagan was born in his home in El Nido, California on November 16, 1911. Tom was the youngest of 10 children born to John and Susie (Brandon) Flanagan. Tom grew up farming and milking cows with his dad and mother, brother Terry, sisters Mae and Bernice, brother Ray, sisters Dorothy, Isabel, Sue, Gladyce and Doris. He attended El Nido grammar school and graduated from Merced High School in 1932.Flying was one of Tom's favorite passions, and he learned to fly in 1936 in a Curtis Robin airplane owned by his brother Ray. Daddy told of how he would drive tractor for $.25/hour and spend $8/hour on flight lessons.

Tom served his country by becoming a Primary Flight Instructor in the Army Air Corp from 1942-1945. He instructed in Stearman aircraft for 2 years at Mira Loma Flight Academy in Oxnard, CA and then transferred to Eagle Field in Dos Palos, CA for approximately 1year.

After he left the Army Air Corp, he returned to farming in the El Nido area. He also operated a flight school at Merced Airport.

In December, 1945, Tom walked into the June Kelley Jewelry Store, owned by June Haun Kelly and Roberta Haun located at 1717 "L'' Street, Merced. While buying a piece of jewelry for a "ladyfriend'' he met Roberta Haun. They fell in love almost immediately and were married on June 1st, 1946.

In 1950 Tom and Roberta settled in their new home in the Red Top area. At the "ranch'' they raised their six children, Daniel, Bridget, Kathleen, Molly, Pegeen and Clancy. Tom and Roberta farmed alfalfa, corn, cotton, and eventually almonds. They operated Flanagan Almond Ranches and Processor in Chowchilla.

Tom always encouraged Roberta to follow her dreams. He was supportive of her when, in 1960, she chose to study Real Estate at their kitchen table after she put the children to bed. She went on to become the first female Real Estate broker in the Red Top/Chowchilla area. In 1970 she moved her office into Merced, which is where she works to this day as (Roberta Flanagan Realtor). Tom was always proud of the success Roberta enjoyed.

Tom shared with Roberta, his children and his grandchildren his love of flying. He began teaching Roberta to fly early in their marriage, but once she began having children, her flight lessons had to wait. On Roberta's 50th birthday, Tom soloed her in a Cessna 150 and soon afterwards in their Stearman aircraft. Tom also taught all of their children and several of their spouses to fly.

Tom told his family they could do anything they set their minds to, telling them to always do their best, and not to take themselves so seriously.

He is survived by his loving wife of 61 years, Roberta, son Dan, (Jacki) daughters Bridget Flanagan Stange,(Roger), Kay Flanagan- Spinelli, (Steve), Molly Flanagan Littlefield, (Keith), Peggy Flanagan Priest (Terry), and son Clancy (Lori) and his sister Doris. Tom and Roberta have 11 grandchildren, Heather Flanagan, Matthew, Brett and Clintt Spinelli, Benjamin and Samuel Littlefield, Kelly, Casey and Curtis Priest and Thomas and Patrick Flanagan, who all loved him dearly.

He is preceded in death by his son, Terry in 2002.

Services will be held at the Christian Life Center, 650 E. Olive Avenue, Merced at 10:35 am July 25, 2007. Tom's Pastor, John Parker will officiate. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Christ Church United Methodist, 260 N. 6th St., Chowchilla, CA 93510, (Tom Flanagan Memorial Fund). Fellowship with the family will take place following the service.