Mover and shaker for Case

Generations of students will get help earning Case degrees thanks to Jack Flynn, PhD, and his “Type Triple A” personality.

John “Jack” Flynn ’51, MS ’53, PhD ’56, went from Case Institute of Technology to the Dow Chemical Co. and soared like a meteor.

At a company that crowned few vice presidents, he attained the VP level at a relatively young age and became one of Dow’s top executives, working closely with CEO Ted Doan, grandson of company founder and Case alumnus Herbert Dow.

Flynn credited Case for his career success. He showed his thanks as one of the most enthusiastic and effective fundraisers in the school’s history. Upon his death January 22, 2020, at age 90, Flynn left a legacy that helps thousands to receive a Case education.

Roger Cerne, executive director emeritus of the Case Alumni Association, believes Flynn had a hand in the creation of 70 to 80 percent of the CAA endowed scholarships awarded to Case students today. That's not all.

Tom Kicher ’59, MS ’62, PhD ’65, the first dean of the modern Case School of Engineering, said Flynn was a key catalyst behind the launch of the school in 1992.

“Jack was very bright,” said Kicher. “He was a mover and shaker, and if you didn’t believe it—just ask him.”

John Matthew Flynn was born in Cleveland in 1929 and graduated valedictorian from North Olmsted High School. He was 17 when he stepped onto a Case Quad teeming with World War II veterans. He stayed to earn three chemical engineering degrees, including a doctorate.

In 1953, he married Barbara Ann Good, with whom he raised seven children. The couple moved to Midland, Michigan, where Flynn reported to work at Dow as a chemical engineer and stayed for 36 years. He rose to become Vice President of Dow USA and General Manager of North American Agricultural Products.

Flynn had long supported Case as a donor, fundraiser, class agent and a member of the Visiting Committee and Case Advisory Board. Upon retiring in 1990, he volunteered to lead the landmark Case Promise fundraising campaign, working closely with Cerne, who recalls long drives visiting alumni at Case Clubs and in their homes.

“I called him a Type Triple A personality,” said Cerne, today an executive advisor to the Case School of Engineering. “He was unbelievable. Not just because of his communication skills. He had a powerful voice and he would get emotional. He would talk about how he got to Case and how he needed help in graduate school.”

A precious scholarship arrived from the Case Club of Midland, Michigan, and Flynn never forgot, Cerne said.

The 1990-94 campaign raised $33 million, exceeding its $30 million goal, a record for the CAA.

Flynn, along with Phil Gutmann ’54, was instrumental in bringing faculty and alumni together to create the Case School of Engineering and selling the idea to the university’s board of trustees, Kicher said. In 2014, he received the school’s Lifetime Service Award.

Anne Cunningham, the Associate Dean for External Relations in the Case School of Engineering, recalls a passionate alumni leader who wanted the best for Case. “He was a supporter, a leader and a mentor to many. He was one of a kind and he is missed.”

In 2006, Flynn was awarded the Gold Medal, the highest honor bestowed annually by the Case Alumni Association. At the awards ceremony, he shared a message with his fellow alumni:  “You can see by now how much an independent CAA means to me and where my loyalty lies.”

That they surely could.