Skip to comments.Our friend, Vinnie [Vince Flynn]
Posted on 06/19/2013 4:50:46 PM PDT by rhema
Vince Flynn was calling his next book The Survivor. He got the idea for this title while on a trip to Cabo in February. A friend, Roberto, made him a cake (with the aid of his minions) that looked like a book. Survivor Man was written along the bottom on edible paper. He took a look at that dessert and said, Wow, that would be a great title for my novel! That vacation was the last time Vinnie felt well enough to walk around much. In fact, he even made it to a beach located a few resorts away to watch his girls swimming like mermaids in the Sea of Cortez. But even though his strength began to diminish, the act of surviving remained paramount on the novelists mind until the final chapter of his life.
In November of 2010 Vince was diagnosed with stage III metastatic prostate cancer. He passed away at 2:00 AM on June 19 surrounded by about 35 family members and friends. My husband and I were honored to be there. His wife had been a patient Nurse Nightingale by his side for the last two and a half years, and of course she was there when he took his last breath, too. He fought to live, just like the CIA operatives did in the stories he created. He was brave and courageous, just like the characters were within his fictional pieces.
The past two years his close buddy, Tom Tracy, organized a Movember team called Mitch Rapp and the Killer Mustaches. Their effortswhich included growing facial hairraised $80,000 for prostate cancer awareness and cure. We all wish a cure would have come soon enough for our friend, Vinnie.
He is in a better place now; in a Heavenly Paradisenot the palm tree and sand type of paradise like his favorite spot in Mexico, but the place we all strive to go to when it is our time: our eternal home. But we wish his health would have improved and that he would have been a Survivor Man. We wish he could have finished that last novel, and many other Mitch Rapp stories.
My husband, Eric, and I have known the Flynns for years. I used to work with Vinnies wife, Lysa, in the fashion industry during our younger days. Eric went to high school with the future author at St. Thomas Academy, where, for the last few years, Vince sat on the board. I didnt go to high school with Vinnie (Its all-male), but I did meet him for the first time when one of his friends, Nick Flood, asked me to their military ball. A few years later, we were students together at St. Thomas College in St. Paul, Minnesota (now the University of St. Thomas). One of my favorite memories of Vince occurred when Id spot him in Murray Hall wearing his football jacket. An entourage surrounded himalways. Especially a harem of co-eds fluttering their eyelids. But because he was such a people-person, Vince always had time for the other folks walking by, too. Hi, Steveken, and How are you, McFadden? or Hello Fr. Malone could be heard between classes. His magnetic personality was one trait that made him successful, Im sure.
Mary Ann Grossmann, book critic for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, once told me that when Vince Flynn first became famous, women flocked to his book signings because this new author was eye candy. But this attention never went to his head, and thankfully, God blessed him with brains to go with that brawn, too. I recently told him: Vinnie, I have a confession. I was a Doubting Thomas. Eric and I used to go to OGaras and see you tending bar and Id say, Whatever happened to Vinnie? He was such a smart guy. He had a great job after collegewhich he quitand now hes pouring drinks and supposedly writing a book. (Of course when I said writing a book I made quotation marks with my fingers in ridicule.) Vince laughed so hard when I admitted this lapse of faith in him. You werent the only one, Kathy. Others have told me the same thing. But I was frustrated with myself for doubting his abilities, especially since my momwho is a writerwas always pulling for him. When he self-published his first novel Term Limits in 1997, my mother (who knew Vince through the OGara family) was so proud of him for following his dreams and being triumphant. And now dontcha knowhe has 14 novels on the New York Times Best Seller List.
She didnt, but my mom could have said to me, See, I told you so.
And eventually, over wine with our spouses in his cigar room, I told him, Im so proud of you Vinnie. Not only for being a successful writer, but for being a successful husband and father, too. Im so glad, now, that I told him that.
Growing up in a big family
Another reason for the novelists success was that he grew up in a creative family that liked to tell stories. Knowing that I dabble in writing he once told me: Kathy, youre so lucky to have a big, extended family. Ive sat and listened to your McMahon uncles, and nobody can spin a tale like they can. Thats a gift that they gave you. I wouldnt be where I am today if my family hadnt shared their narratives.
There were seven kids in the Flynn household. Their father, Terry, was a teacher and coach at St. Thomas Academy when the snappers were young. Their mother, Kathleen, has always been an incredible artist of wildlifeespecially of water fowl, earning her the nickname, Grandma Duck. (She was named Ducks Unlimited Artist of the Year in the past.) Vince liked to discuss his familys gift of Irish gab, saying that they would often discuss politics, current events and historyfueling little Vinnies interest in these topics. Quite often their dinner-time storytelling would get rambunctious, with fistfights and tears.Vince would refer to their childhood squabbles as The Fightin Irish episodes. His longtime buddy, Brian Kruse, (who helped sell Vinces first book out of the trunk of his car) said that Vince was excellent at debating. He honed in on this craft because hed had lots of practice collecting facts to present to his family during their opposing arguments. This is definitely a gift which he was able to carry into his writing, as Im sure youve noticed, too. Vince was always stubborn, and he loved to be right.
A family man
Before Vince Flynn became a household name, he married a small-town girl from northern Minnesota. (They were introduced by news anchors Frank Vascillaro and Amelia Santaniello.) I love what the author wrote about his Honey (as he called her) in the acknowledgments of The Last Man:
To my darling wife, Lysa, who has always been wise beyond her years, thank you for giving me some of that wisdom when I really needed it. Now if I could just get some of that grace from you, Id really have things moving in the right direction. You are my favorite thing about life.
When that book came out, I told Vinnie that hed better be careful, because what he wrote about his wife was so beautiful that the publishers were going to start listing his thrillers as romance novels.
During one of our dinners together, Vinnie told Eric and me, Whenever Im on the road and I think women are getting a little flirty with me, I just flash my wedding band. He had no tolerance for infidelity and treasured his beautiful marriage. In all the years I knew him he only had lovely things to say about his wife.
Every Thursday was date night; usually at their favorite restaurant in Mendota for a Bloody Mary and crab cakes. Everyone knew them there, they were like Norm in Cheers.
The Flynns have three children between the ages of 10 and 17. Our old friendship was re-ignited when our kids started doing things together after they moved from a Minneapolis suburb to the better side of the river. (For those of you who dont know, the Twin Cities have a playful rivalry.) Our families and other friends have enjoyed many great times together, including storytelling of our own, in a pub that was built in our basement. During grace we would often recite an Irish saying for Vince: May you live to be old and gray and comb the hair of your childrens children. How we wish this would have come to fruition.
Man of faith
A friend of the Flynns, Fr. Peter Laird (who went to college with Vince), said that there were always two things in Vinnies hands: his phone and his ring rosary. Father added, One was used to communicate with people on Earth, and one was used to communicate with God in Heaven. He then stated that a copy of the Magnificat prayer book was always near his side.
The Flynns are members of St. Josephs in West St. Paul. Vince was a fixture in the pews quite often for the all-school Masses on Fridays. Hed sit right in between his girls. Often, hed discuss with family and friends what he heard in Fr. Creagans great homilies or those delivered by other priests.
Vince loved his Catholic faith, even though he was a Type-A and got anxious if Masses ran too long. After he was diagnosed, his family often stood in the back of church with our big clan. Often, he would help us chase around our toddling twins or just hold them in order to give us a break. Thats the kind of guy he was.
He and Lysa give generously to the church and Catholic schools. He wrote this in the acknowledgments of Kill Shot:
To Ed Kocourek, my unofficial spiritual mentor. Thank you for pushing me when I needed it. The Adoration Chapel and St. Josephs has become a place of great beauty and serenity in my life. To Father John Malone, Father Peter Laird, and Archbishop Emeritus Harry Flynn for your prayers and guidance. I am a God-fearing soul and always have been. I choose to believe, and to all of you who have sent your prayers and well-wishes, thank you.
Vince and his wife are very pro-life. In fact, recently he donated a dinner with himself and former NFL player, Matt Birk, for the Wakota Lifecare Center. In one of his books he bravely condemns partial-birth abortion. (See the blog) He debated this issue well in a secular context, trying to enlighten readers to the importance of respecting the unborn.
We once heard him tell someone, If you just stepped foot into a Catholic church you wouldnt have so much anxiety. Because Vince embraced his faith, he didnt have any fear about dying. But as Father Laird said at Vinces deathbed, He just didnt want to go so soon.
I will close this article with Vinnies favorite saying: Keep the faith!
We miss you already, Vinnie. Thank you for the gift of your friendship, laughter and stories.
. . . Flynn's Rapp series was sometimes criticized for leaning to the right politically, with Rapp described in one book as "a modern-day assassin who lived in a civilized country where such a term could never be used openly."
But Flynn made no apologies for Rapp's commitment to national security.
"Prior to 9/11 reviewers said that my plots were implausible, over the top," he said in 2004. "A fair amount of people doubted a menace was out there. Since then, people figured out that it's a war. My viewpoint is that you have to go on the offensive and take these guys out. A lot of people cringe hearing that, but the people we are up against are not meek."
Flynn's publisher said his novels "have been praised for their extensive research and prescient warnings about the rise of Islamic radical fundamentalism and terrorism. His books have been read by current and former presidents, foreign heads of state and intelligence professionals around the world and are admired for their versimilitude and imagination."
His tough books also resonated with troops serving in the Middle East.
When "Memorial Day" was published in 2004, Flynn told the Pioneer Press how elated he was when a CIA chief of operations said "you can't get into a Humvee in Baghdad without kicking a Vince Flynn paperback."
"That director is a former Marine responsible for operations in all the bad spots, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran," Flynn recalled. "When he jumped up, starts pumping my hand and tells me he's a huge fan of my books, I almost fainted. He'd just gotten back from Baghdad, where the guys sat around a bonfire, drinking beer, arguing about who should play Mitch Rapp in a movie."
Oh man....watching on TV was something.....you just KNEW he was a GREAT person!! ANd a HUNK of a guy.
Is it necesssary for someone to have been a world changer for Rush to talk about them? How about just honoring a friend as Rush did, it that such a big problem for you? Sheesh!
I guess you didn’t read the article that is the source of this thread, eh?
Read his books and you will see why all of the hoopla. You can’t put them down until your finished with them. I was waiting for the next one to come out in November. He will be missed.
‘Term Limits’ was my favorite. We need that kind of term Limits now.
RIP and thank you, Vince.
He will be very much missed for his commitment to telling a story that is eriely close to what is REALLY going on and the powers that be are to blind to see. RIP Vince.
My best friend’s daughter, Annie, went to school with Vince at St. Thomas. Annie is who introduced me to his books. She said he was one of the finest men she ever knew.
Requiem in Pacit, Vince.
perhaps what he did for the world was to be a good, honest human being who loved God, his family and his country. We could use more like Vince Flynn. God rest his soul and give his family and friends strength and comfort.
I just bought Term Limits a couple weeks ago for a summer read....why do the good guys go so soon....??? So sad.
Oh my. I had no clue he was even sick. He was my favorite author. Prayers for his family. The world of fiction has lost an icon. He was one of us. He will be sorely missed.
It is sad. You’ll enjoy Term Limits. We need that kind of term limits on a huge scale.
I have read all of Vince’s books and enjoyed them immensely. This was a good man—a patriot, a Christian, a man who knew right from wrong. Thank you for touching my life. May God hold you in his gentle hands now.
He would have fit in very nicely here on Free Republic as he was one of us.
Thank you so much for posting this piece about Vince Flynn.
An exceptional writer with profound insights - I will miss Mitch Rapp.
“What is he famous for and why worthy of all the hoopla?”
Could ask the same about Zane Grey, Jack London and Samuel Clemens but it would be pointless.
Too young to die///// I really liked his books////Rest in peace Mr Vince. Your main character Mitch Rapp came off as believable and real
How does such a healthy young man get struck down? A question for the ages. HS option is in order
He could have done nothing more than brought an enjoyable few hours to me every year or so, and I would mourn his passing.
Why do some people have to be jerks? I don’t need to enjoy the same things as another person to respect the talent.
The problem with the Internet is that people think everything needs to be about them. It’s really a sad thing.