After 50 years, parade still has meaning for one veteran

Delaware County Daily Times (Primos – Upper Darby, PA) – November 10, 2009

Author/Byline: SUSAN L. SERBIN; Times Correspondent

MEDIA — When the bands, ROTC students, military and civic units march down State Street Wednesday, there will be at least one spectator who was present for Delaware County’s first major Veterans Day Parade 50 years ago. Thomas Flynn made a promise to himself to honor the fallen when he was a boy. And he has done so unfailingly for more than a half-century.

Flynn grew up on Manchester Avenue in Upper Providence and was friends with a neighborhood youth down the block named Jack Judefind, who was about five or six years older than Flynn.

“He was like the older brother I never had,” Flynn said. “We’d go toss a football or baseball. He was a great guy and a great athlete who was offered a contract with the Philadelphia Athletics.

“One day, when I was about 12, I came home from Nativity (BVM School) for lunch and my mother said, ‘I have bad news.’ She told me Jack had been killed on D-Day. It upset me so badly that when I went back to school, the nuns sent me home. I still can’t talk about it without getting choked up.”

Trying to think of what he could do, and being too young then to join the military, Flynn settled on an idea that would last into six decades.

“I decided I would go to every Memorial Day and Veterans Day event,” Flynn said. “I have not missed a service or a parade so that I can honor Jack.”

Flynn subsequently nominated Judefind to the St. James High School Hall of Fame.

The Delaware County Veterans Parade will observe its 50th anniversary Wednesday. Flynn’s story is illustrative of what the event means to the community. Having served in the Coast Guard from 1950-53, he will join with fellow veterans of American Legion Post 93, which co-hosts the parade with VFW Post 3460. The veterans march to symbolize camaraderie and remembrance, yet each may have an individual story such as Flynn. Likewise, spectators who line the parade route often have a family member in mind as they watch the marching units wave flags or play patriotic tunes.

The parade is being organized by the Veterans Legacy Project, directed by Bob Dimond, who is American Legion 93 post commander and former adjutant; the Pennsylvania Veterans Museum; and Chairman Bob McMahon, the borough’s mayor. Providing the customary parade lineup will be 10 school bands, between 400 and 500 young people from 11 JROTC units, VFW and American Legion posts, elected officials and special guests.

McMahon said the parade will be extensive and the speeches in front of the courthouse relatively brief. There will be no grand marshal this year, but the parade will honor the Stryker Brigade 1st Battalion, 111th Infantry Combat Team with dozens of representatives expected. McMahon said he believed a grand marshal has rarely been the reason most people attend.

Since last Veterans Day, hundreds of service men and women, as Abraham Lincoln observed in the Gettysburg Address, “gave the last full measure of devotion.” Thousands more are still in harm’s way. Many reasons exist for attendance at the Veterans Day Parade.

Thomas M. Flynn, 80, (obit)

Delaware County Daily Times (Primos – Upper Darby, PA) – February 21, 2011

Thomas M. Flynn, Age 80 years, of Media, Pa., died Saturday, February 19, 2011.

Born and raised in Media, Pa. he graduated Nativity B.V.M. grade school, and St. James High School class of 1948. After high school, he served in the U.S. Coast Guard 1950 – 53. Mr. Flynn began his career serving a 5 year plumbing apprenticeship with Francis P. Kane. He worked for Sun Ship & Dry Dock Co. which became PENN Shipbuilding in Chester from 1956 – 1989. He retired as Maintenance Supervisor, Pipe Fitter & Welders safety leader. After retirement he began a second career with Elwyn Institute as Maintenance Supervisor for 12 years.

Mr. Flynn was a proud St. James High School Alumni. During his years in high school he was an accomplished athlete most notably for track and Cross Country. He was recently honored by the St. James Alumni as their 2010 inductee to their “Wall Of Honor.”

An avid sportsman, he had a special love for baseball, he was a true Phillies fan and he was a dedicated volunteer with the Media Little League. He served the league as baseball manager, umpire, administrator, and board member for over 30 years. He was also one of the original founding members of the NPAA. Mr. Flynn received many awards for his community service including his founders NPAA plaque in 1962, a retirement award from Media, Little League in 1991 and he was honored as Sportsman of the year in 1978 by the Media Old Timers Assoc. In 1983 he was awarded the Media Borough Founder’s Award. He served on the Oldtimer’s banquet committee for 30 years.

Mr. Flynn was an American Legion Life Member, he collected old flags for burning, and he placed over 700 flags annually on the graves of Veterans every Memorial Day. He was an active member of Nativity BVM Parish in Media, Pa where he served the church on Parish council, as an extraordinary minister, and was a church usher for over 50 years. He was President of the Media Republican Club for 10 years. Mr. Flynn was an active man, with a full life, but his most special times were spent with his family. He was preceded in death by his brother James Flynn.

He is survived by his wife of 58 years Lois Flynn. 3 daughters, Joyce McGuire ( Matthew ) Diane Black ( Dave ) and Beverly Flynn, all of Media, Pa. also survived by his 5 grandchildren Thomas, Brian, Matthew, Paul and Emily. His sister Elizabeth Flynn, He had a special fondness for his two nephews, Michael and Jason Flynn.