William P. Flanigan, 86, executive for contracting company

April 12, 2003|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

William P. Flanigan, a retired executive for a local contracting firm that built highways and other public works, died Sunday of a blood disease at his Homeland home. He was 86.

In his long career in construction, Mr. Flanigan oversaw highway construction projects at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, the Baltimore Beltway and the Dundalk Marine Terminal.

Born in Baltimore and raised in the city's West Arlington neighborhood, he attended the old Mount Washington Country School for Boys before graduating from Calvert Hall College High School in 1935. He earned a degree from Cornell University's Sibley School of Engineering in 1939.

In 1939 he began work as an engineer at Lloyd E. Mitchell, a mechanical contracting and engineering firm, where he remained until 1956, when he was executive vice president and a member of its board of directors.

"He was the smartest man I ever knew. He could pick up on how things worked immediately. He was a born organizer," said Dr. John C. Norton, a family friend and retired physician. "He helped get young people started. I don't think he had an enemy in the world."

From 1956 to 1999 he was an executive with P. Flanigan & Sons, a contracting business founded by his family in the 19th century. From 1972 to 1978 he was its president. He retired in 1999 as vice chairman of its board.

"What was important to Bill was to quietly help others," said Frank S. Waesche III, an engineer and friend. "He was a dignified gentleman who always had time for everyone. He would offer his opinion, sometimes when you didn't want it. You could take a problem, be it a work or life problem, he would listen patiently, reflect and give you sound advice. For me, he was the ultimate mentor."

He sailed extensively in the Chesapeake Bay and Magothy River and was a past commander of the Gibson Island Yacht Squadron. Mr. Flanigan enjoyed tending his family's 1931 Cadillac V-16 limousine, the restoration of which he supervised several years ago.

In 1994 he was named a Knight of Malta, a Roman Catholic honorary title, in recognition of his long service to local hospitals. For more than 30 years he was vice chairman of the board of Bon Secours Hospital in West Baltimore. He also sat on the financial advisory committee to the Sisters of Bon Secours.

In the 1950s he advised two local high schools -- Calvert Hall and Notre Dame Preparatory -- on moving from Baltimore City to new campuses in Baltimore County.

Mr. Flanigan was the 1966 president of the Engineering Society of Baltimore, where he received the Founders Award in 1990. He was also a past president of the Maryland chapter of the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers.

In 1987 he received the Hibernian of the Year award from the Hibernian Society of Baltimore.

His wife of 36 years, the former Dorothy F. Murphy, died in 1977.

He was a member of the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, where services were held Thursday.

Survivors include a son, W. Patrick Flanigan Jr. of Towson; three daughters, Sheila Flanigan of Taneytown, Mary Ellen Nordhoff of Phoenix and Dorothy F. Flanigan of Baltimore; a brother, Pierce J. Flanigan of Gibson Island; seven grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

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