Robert John Flanagan Sr.

August 5, 1921April 8, 2019

Robert John Flanagan, Sr., 97 and a resident of Vinson Hall in McLean, Virginia passed away at 2:30 p.m. at Halquist Memorial Inpatient Center on April 8, 2019. He was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on August 5, 1921, the third of five children of Patrick and Dorine (LeBlanc) Flanagan.

Robert was a student at the Massachusetts School of Art when World War II broke out. In 1942 he volunteered for military duty in the Army Air Corps and served with the 14th Air Force, Chennault’s “Flying Tigers” in the China, Burma, India Campaign as a pilot of the B25 Billy Mitchell bomber. He flew 52 combat missions after which he returned to the states where he became an instructor for the B25 pilots.

After the war he stayed in the U.S. Air Force and worked in the field of Public Relations with flying duties. He was the public relations officer with the United States Air Forces in Europe stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany during the Hungarian Air Lift. Later in his career he became the Art Director of the new “Airman” magazine. He retired from the service in 1968 with the rank of Colonel. His medals include the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal which Lt. General Claire Chennault personally presented to him.

His civilian employment was in the public relations field for several government agencies beginning with the Food and Drug Administration, Federal Water Quality Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency from which he retired in 1986.

Later in life Robert became a part of the Polish Community through the invitation of his second wife Mary. For his contributions to Polish causes, he was awarded the Cavalier’s Cross Order of Merit from the Republic of Poland. He was also a member of the John Paul II Foundation.

Robert is survived by his second wife Mary(Lubienski) Flanagan, his five children from his first marriage to Virginia (Miller) Flanagan - Virginia (Craig) Huller, Linda Flanagan, Robert John (Nancy) Flanagan, Jr., Patricia (Joseph) Natale, and Kathleen (Michael) Cox, stepson Matthew (Jane) Witkowski; 17 grandchildren, 28 great grandchildren, and one great great grandchild.

His family will fondly remember him as a talented singer of beautiful Irish melodies, an ardent sudoku and crossword puzzle solver, and a lover of ice cream especially butter pecan.

A visitation will be held at Murphy Funeral Home, 4510 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22203 on Friday, April 12th from 6-8 pm. A mass of Christian Burial will be held on Saturday, April 13th at 1 pm at St. John the Beloved Catholic Church, 6420 Linway Terrace, McLean, VA 22101. Interment will take place at a later date at Arlington National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in honor of Robert to a charity of your choice. Online condolences may be made at


  • Visitation Friday, April 12, 2019
  • Memorial Mass Saturday, April 13, 2019

Robert John Flanagan Sr.

have a memory or condolence to add?

Melissa Yanowitz

April 18, 2019

Mr. Flanagan was a dear neighbor to us in Bethany for decades... his friendly disposition and smiling face was always very welcoming. No doubt his death is a great loss to his wife, family and all who knew him. He will be missed. Please accept our condolences.
—with deepest sympathy, the Yanowitzs