John Leo Flanigan Jr., 87, founder and president of trucking, construction firms

August 11, 2002|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

John Leo Flanigan Jr., a retired founder and president of construction and specialty trucking companies who enjoyed sailing the Chesapeake Bay, died of pneumonia Thursday at Blakehurst retirement community in Towson. He was 87.

Mr. Flanigan, a former Roland Park resident, was born and raised on Groveland Avenue in West Arlington. He graduated in 1933 from Calvert Hall College High School, and attended the University of Maryland and the Catholic University of America in Washington, where he studied civil engineering.

In the late 1930s, he established and served as president of Brooklyn Engineering Corp., which built houses during World War II. Projects his company worked on during the 1950s included construction of the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel and replacement of the Calvert Street bridge over the Jones Falls Expressway and Pennsylvania Railroad tracks.

A second company, the Brooklyn Corp., founded at the same time, specialized in transportation by truck of oversized cargoes, such as the statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee that stands near the Baltimore Museum of Art.

After closing the two businesses in the early 1960s, he founded Atlas Transportation Inc., a trucking company that hauled steel, machinery and oversized freight.

Among the shipments the company transported were the first Mercury space capsule and steel pilings used in the construction of New York's World Trade Center. He retired and closed the business in 1990.

Mr. Flanigan's interest in sailing began as a child when he learned to sail aboard his father's yawl, the Gleam. Father and son competed in the challenging Bermuda races.

He later converted his father's 40-foot yawl into a cutter rig with a single mast. After selling the Gleam, he owned a 30-foot, 5.5-metre Olympic-class sailboat and Hobie Cats. He enjoyed racing on the Chesapeake Bay.

In addition to being a member of the Gibson Island Yacht Club and the Annapolis Yacht Club, he was a founding director of Chesapeake Hobie Cat Fleet 54. He also was a founder of the Windjammers of the Chesapeake and the Chesapeake Multihull Association.

Mr. Flanigan was an active member of the Constellation Restoration Committee, and during the 1990s was safety officer for the U.S. Naval Academy's sailing program. He also coached the Special Olympics sailing team.

He was 76 years old when he realized a dream of a lifetime: A nephew, Dr. Johns S. Flanigan of Baltimore, invited him to crew aboard his new 35-foot sailboat on a voyage from the Azores to the Bahamas.

"He was a good sailor who loved the wind, water and open spaces," said one of his sons, John L. Flanigan III of Cedarcroft, who was taught to sail by his father when he was 8 years old. "He was also a good and patient teacher and well-respected at the Naval Academy."

Mr. Flanigan continued sailing until the late 1990s.

He was married in 1939 to Evelyn Louise Hogan, who died in 1991.

Mr. Flanigan was a communicant of St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Church, 1008 W. 37th St., Hampden, where a memorial Mass will be offered at 11 a.m. Sept. 7.

He is survived by his wife of eight years, the former Louise Mullan; three other sons, Joseph H. Flanigan of Perry Hall, Daniel P. Flanigan of Towson and David C. Flanigan of Frostburg; four daughters, Mary L. Tillman of Stoneleigh, Rosemary F. Beers of Ruxton, Evelyn L. Sias of Tuckerton, N.J. and Susan M. Flanigan of Chevy Chase; a sister, Regina F. Shannahan of Oxford; 20 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

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