John Flanagan; doctor aided poor

Dr. John C. Flanagan, 85, of West Chester, a physician who made it his mission to care for the poor, died Jan. 6 of a myocardial infarction at his home.

In 1958, Dr. Flanagan opened a family practice in Lansdale, but closed it in the mid-1960s to focus his attention on the needy, from low-income city dwellers to veterans battling addictions.

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John C. Flanagan

Daughter Maura Crago said he was inspired by President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty, as well as the Cursillo Movement, which trained Catholic laymen to act on their Christian convictions.

"He felt called to work with the poor," his daughter said. ". . . It was never about the money. He is an example to us all.

Dr. Flanagan did his part by becoming the first medical director of Temple University's neighborhood medical center in North Philadelphia.

"John had a great love for the poor and was involved in many projects on their behalf," the family said. One was the Bethesda Project, which cares for the city's homeless and formerly homeless, offering shelter, case management, and treatment for addiction and mental illness.

The son of Dr. John and Marie Gable Flanagan, the younger Dr. Flanagan spent his childhood in Mount Airy.

He graduated from La Salle College High School, Georgetown University, and Jefferson Medical College.

He served a residency at Norristown State Hospital and was a fellow in internal medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., before finishing his graduate training at Abington Memorial Hospital.

Dr. Flanagan was board certified in internal medicine. By 1973, he also had become certified in alcohol and drug addiction treatment. He moved to Arizona to become chief of medicine at the VA Medical Center in Prescott, where he put into practice his new skills. He returned to the Philadelphia area in 1983, and became a staff physician for the Coatesville Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

In 1991, he joined the Wilmington VA Medical Center as an internist. He retired in 2007.

Dr. Flanagan was devoted to Georgetown University, his alma mater, and embraced Jesuit spirituality, his family said.

Athletically inclined, he enjoyed tennis, golf, hiking, and biking with family members, especially when they lived in Arizona. He also liked birdwatching and listening to jazz.

His daughter said Dr. Flanagan was a kind man who didn't revel in his accomplishments. "He was very attentive to every person he met," she said. He had a great sense of humor.

Besides his daughter, he is survived by his wife of 60 years, Nancy Graham Flanagan; sons Joseph and Paul; four grandchildren; two sisters; a brother; and many nieces and nephews. Another sister died earlier.

A viewing from 9:30 to 10:45 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 11, will be followed by an 11 a.m. Funeral Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Parish, 1325 Boot Rd., West Chester. Interment will be later at St. Agnes Cemetery, West Chester.

Donations in his memory may be made to the Bethesda Project, 1630 South St., Philadelphia 19146.

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