What can you say about a life that touched so many in 63 short years?
Well, this life was well-lived and stretched many lifetimes. I’m talking about Pat Flanagan, who we lost this past December. He, along with his beloved wife Melissa, owned and operated Flanagan’s Pub on Stewart Street.
It was called the unofficial University of Dayton hang-out, and just about anyone who attended the university sipped a few a Flanagan’s. Yet, during St. Patrick’s Day, it was more than the college crowd – everyone was Irish that day.
Steve Tieber, owner of the Dublin Pub in the Oregon District, teamed up with Flanagan in 1998 to host the largest St. Patty’s celebration in Ohio. He called Flanagan the “Godfather of St. Patrick’s Day in Dayton.”
“Pat started it all,” Tieber said. “I remember once, he was hosting over 1,000 people on the biggest business day of his year, and yet he took the time to come over to our place to say ‘Hi.’ I quickly realized the immensity of his gesture, and I walked him to our stage, grabbed the mic and said, ‘I want to thank everyone for coming today, and I want to thank the man that started this all, ladies and gentlemen, The Godfather of St. Patrick’s Day, Pat Flanagan.’ The entire crowd began cheering and clapping, and I realized what an honor it was to have him take the time to come and see me on his busiest day.”
Pat’s wife Melissa seconded that idea.
“I totally agree,” she said. “He brought the St. Patrick’s Day party to Dayton. He was known for Flanagan’s Pub and St. Patrick’s Day almost synonymously. I think he would love to be remembered with this title.”
Tieber said it will be tough without Pat around.
“I lost my father last year, and Pat is gone this year, and I know there will be an emptiness felt, especially for the hundreds, possibly thousands, that love to go to Flanagan’s and see his smiling face, his Guinness hockey jersey on and Pepsi in hand.”
What is it about the Pepsi, you might ask?
“Isn’t it strangely ironic, the man responsible for the vast immensity of St. Patrick’s Day revelry doesn’t even drink,” Tieber said with a laugh. “I did not know Pat in the days when he partook, but as I understand, there were many a wife or girlfriend left in a state of worry while their other halves were experiencing a night with Pat. I have been told he lived up to his Irish name though.”
Melissa said there was a purpose behind the Pepsi.
“A lot of people don’t know/remember we went through treatment in 1987 and he quit drinking,” she said. “It is hard to imagine the willpower it took to come back and continue to run the pub. He subsequently helped a lot of people overcome their addiction to alcohol, always respecting their private journey and rarely even sharing with me he was helping someone.”
She also said St. Patty’s Day was a labor of love for her late husband.
“He was really proud of the St. Patrick’s Day celebration he was able to bring to the Dayton area,” Flanagan said. “What started as a relatively small party inside the pub has grown into a huge celebration he looked forward to every year, and the chance to provide a fantastic party for everyone.”
So, how will the Godfather be honored this year?
“We began a tradition at the Dublin Pub last year where we honor those who have passed by putting their pictures up on the tent ceiling while Shawn Mcintyre of Father, Son & Friends plays ‘Amazing Grace’ on bagpipes,” Tieber said. “It is a very emotional time, and the only couple of minutes the crowd under the tent will be silent.”
And at Flanagan’s?
“We will definitely have a special toast to him,” Flanagan said. “I’m hoping the day itself is a tribute with a huge crowd of people having fun, celebrating being Irish – if only for a day – and enjoying the party!”
Tieber summed it all up: “Come on, this is the guy who is a part of Dayton history,” he said. “He brought St. Patrick’s Day to life in Dayton, he was a fixture of UD Basketball, a host to generations of UD students, he was a father, husband, race car driver, the unofficial spokesperson for Pepsi and a friend to everyone. I will miss my friend.”
And so will we.
Cheers Pat Flanagan,
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