JUNE 2, 1936 – FEBRUARY 29, 2024

Reverend Thomas Robert Flynn, age 87, of Atlanta, GA passed away peacefully on February 29, 2024. Tom touched many people, in many walks of life, through his compassionate, kind and gentle ways.

Tom was born in Spokane, WA to Thomas Flynn and Bernice Colliton Flynn on June 2, 1936. He lived in Spokane and Bismarck, ND before moving to Anaconda, MT. He always considered Anaconda his home, graduating from Anaconda Central High School in in 1954. He then attended Carroll College in Helena, MT, graduating summa cum laude with bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and history. He attended the seminary at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, Italy and was ordained a Catholic Priest in 1961. He was Valedictorian of his class, graduating summa cum laude from the Gregorian University in Rome in 1962, earning a master’s degree in theology. He then taught at Carroll College for several years. In 1970 he earned a doctorate in philosophy from Columbia University (NY). 

He taught at Catholic University (Washington, DC), Carroll College and St. Mary’s (Baltimore, MD). In 1978 he moved to Atlanta, GA and joined the faculty at Emory University. He was the Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Philosophy at Emory where he continued to teach until his retirement in 2021. Tom was a favorite professor of Emory students, and he earned numerous teaching awards, including the Emory Williams Distinguished Teaching Award. Tom was a devoted teacher and wanted his career to be remembered for helping students on their journey to understanding the world around them and their place in it. 

Tom’s area of expertise was Existentialism. He was a world-renowned expert on Jean-Paul Sartre. He also contributed considerable research on other contemporary French philosophers including Michele Foucault. He has written seven books and coauthored several others as well as hundreds of articles.

Tom always loved teaching but said first and foremost that he was a Catholic priest. He was a man of great faith and to know him was to be touched by God’s grace. He was a priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena, MT. Tom took great pride in being part of the Helena diocese and had many cherished friends among the clergy. In Atlanta Tom celebrated Mass for the sisters of the Missionaries of Charity Gift of Grace House. He also served at St. John Chrysostom Melkite Catholic Church in Atlanta for more than 30 years and was beloved by their congregation. One of Tom’s greatest loves was ministering to those who were suffering. Helping others was a way of life for Tom. 

Tom loved traveling especially throughout Italy and his favorite city, Paris. Tom was a much loved and admired brother, uncle, cousin and friend. He celebrated and/or attended many weddings, baptisms and funerals. He especially enjoyed spending time with his numerous nieces, nephews, godchildren and young people in general. He had a gift for meeting them where they were and being genuinely interested in their lives. 

He was preceded in death by his parents; his stepmother, Gertrude Flynn; his dear brothers, John and Jim; and sister, Betty. He is survived by sisters, Rose Flynn (Bob) of Silverdale, WA and Mary Kovacich (Jack) of Lakeside, MT; brother, George Martin (Kitty) of Yucca Valley, CA; and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins. 

In the final years of his life Tom courageously battled Alzheimer’s with his usual grace and humility. When he was first diagnosed, he prayed that he could keep his faith and his sense of humor, and he was blessed to be able to do that. His care on this long journey was a very special blessing, and the family wishes to extend our sincere thanks to his precious friends of “Team Tom” and his loving caregivers Kara, Tiffany, Stella and Rose. 

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to a charity of your choice or to the:

Missionaries of Charity
Attn: Sister Aracelly, M.C.
995 St. Charles Avenue N.E.
Atlanta GA 3030

In Memoriam