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WCCO anchor Vascellaro called Flynn’s death “heartbreaking.” A good friend who introduced Flynn to the woman who would become his wife, Lysa, Vascellaro has a lake place in Wisconsin next door to the Flynn family’s cabin.
“I saw him there Memorial Day weekend, and physically he wasn’t doing well, but it brought him joy to be at the lake,” Vascellaro said.
Most people weren’t aware of “what a huge, worldwide success he was as an author,” Vascellaro said, “because when you met him, he was just Vinny from St. Paul, a guy from a big Irish family who was grounded in his values and convictions, a loyal friend and an extraordinarily generous person who helped all kinds of people both publicly and privately.”
From class clown to fundraiser
One example of that generosity is a capital campaign he co-chaired to raise money for his former high school, St. Thomas Academy, where his father, Terry, had also been a student and then teacher. The campaign, which Flynn continued to work on after his cancer diagnosis, raised more than $18 million, said headmaster Thomas Mich.
“He was a loyal alumnus who demonstrated over and over again how much he cared about the institution and the young men it served,” Mich said.
Dave Ziebarth, who taught Flynn’s ninth-grade social-studies class, recalls him as “an outgoing, funny, energetic guy, a class cutup. He wasn’t the greatest student, because he struggled with reading, but he was a really hard worker. He pushed himself.”
Flynn’s 15th book, “The Survivor,” was due out in November, but that release is now uncertain, his publisher said.
“As good as Vince was on the page, he was even more engaging in person,” said Carolyn Reidy, president of Simon & Schuster, in a statement released Wednesday. “He had a truly unique ability to make everyone feel as if we were on his team and sharing in his life and his success. We will miss the Mitch Rapp stories that are classic modern thrillers, but we will miss Vince even more.”
In addition to his wife, Lysa, Flynn is survived by their three children as well as his siblings, parents and extended family. Services are pending.
Staff writer Neal Justin and the Associated Press contributed to this report. Kristin Tillotson • 612-673-7046