RAYMOND BERTRAM FLANAGAN, 91
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WINTER HAVEN - Raymond Bertram Flanagan, 91, passed away on Thursday, November 29, 2012 after a brief illness. Affectionately known as "Pappa" to his family, he was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, and a friend to many. Born August 8, 1921 in Drakesburg, Ohio, Raymond was the son of Grace and Bertram Flanagan. He moved St. Petersburg, Florida in 1947 and has resided in Winter Haven for 57 years.
Raymond's love of aviation began at the age of four when his uncle Edward took him for a ride in a Ford tri-motor airplane. In 1942, he began his own flying career in Corpus Christi, TX as a Naval Cadet. He was a professional instructor pilot for over 20 years and flew privately well into his later years. He and his fellow instructors at Bartow Air Base, Florida were responsible for training and graduating over 5000 pilots, including many now famous military commanders and astronauts such as Buzz Aldrin and Ed White. He once served as commander of a Navy PB4Y four engine patrol bomber and had accumulated over 10,000 hours in more than 40 types of aircraft including the T-37 jet trainer. Ray's other assignments included Atlanta NAS, Ft. Rucker AL, and Norfolk VA. After being honorably discharged from the Navy, he remained in the Naval Reserve while living a stone's throw from Winter Haven's Gilbert Field airport, his final "home base." He was one of the few remaining members of the Bartow Air Base Instructor Pilots Alumni Association.
He had an infinite amount of love for both his family and his church family. He was an humble and generous man with a deep faith in God and a strong personal character. He had great wisdom and was always concerned about the well-being of others. He brought smiles to faces and laughter to hearts whether he was teasing his children/grandchildren, greeting members at Grace Lutheran Church, welcoming patrons to the old Haven Café, or just being silly with his new friends at Spring Haven. Ray loved the game of baseball and he kept his season tickets to Spring Training until the last team left Winter Haven. Many loved him and all will miss him.
He was preceded in death by his high school sweetheart and beloved wife of 47 years, Helen, son Bruce Flanagan, and daughter Rae Marie Flanagan Merino. He is survived by his daughter Joan Flanagan Symes (Bob), grandchildren Jason Neal, Billy Merino, Christy Symes Raley, Michael Symes, Kimberly Hartley (Mike), Cari Cabral; great grandchildren Abigail Grace Raley and Brandon Hutchinson. Daughter-in-law Judy Flanagan, son-in-law Bill Merino, sister Connie Kelly, cousins Sunny Schreiner and Marilyn Spaeth. Pappa also leaves behind a special friend - his favorite grand-dog, Mary.
Visitation will be at 10:00 am Monday December 3rd at Grace Lutheran Church, Winter Haven, FL with the funeral service at 11:00 at the church. (Crisp-Coon).
Pallbearers: Jason Neal, Bob Symes, Michael Symes, Billy Merino, William Merino, and Dr. Richard Radocha.
Published in Ledger from Dec. 2 to Dec. 3, 2012