That's what brought so many current and former Bearcats to the former Northwest athletic director's funeral on Monday and why his influence can be felt over 20 years after his retirement.
"It's a tough situation to come back because you've lost him, but a lot of good memories and good times telling those stories," former men's basketball coach Steve Tappmeyer said. "He was very active when he did retire, always coming back to ballgames, always being around the athletes. They really enjoyed him. He was just a fun guy."
Tappmeyer led Northwest for 21 years after Flanagan hired him in 1989. The only Flanagan hire remaining with the athletic department is Mark Rosewell, who's manned the tennis program since 1984.
"He knew everybody... the whole community. He was in numerous clubs and organizations," he said. "He was always trying to do something to make things a little bit better."
Flanagan, a Korean War veteran, died over the weekend at 84 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He coached in Savannah and King City before joining the Bearcats football staff. As athletic director, he took part in the early construction of Bearcat Arena and the groundbreaking for Bearcat Stadium. Coaches say he took a hands-on approach with the projects.
"It was not uncommon at all to see him heading out mid-afternoon with work clothes on ready to go do some physical labor after already having been in at six doing all the administrative stuff," Tappmeyer said.
After holding the director position from 1978-1994, he was named to Northwest's M-Club and Missouri Sports Hall of Fames. He continued to be a regular presence at Bearcat sporting events and around the athletic department in his final years.
"He had a real appreciation for all of our sports and the development of them," current athletic director Mel Tjeerdsma said. "He wanted everybody to be successful. He really cared about that."
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