Robert M. Flynn · 1992

Just one year ago today, one of Indiana’s most respected politicians, Otis M. Bowen, sent us a hand-written note urging the induction of Bob Flynn in the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame.

“During my service in the Indiana legislature and as Governor, both positions which consumed 22 years of my life, I had many occasion to get to know Bob Flynn,” Bowen wrote.

“His coverage of the political arena was done as well, as complete, as informative, as honest and as fair as any journalist I’ve known – and that has been many.

“His method of gathering information for his articles was done with courtesy, tact and skill. Believe me, that was most appreciated by those he interviewed.”

Several letters from others, including Bob’s peers and editors, also are most supportive.

Bob retired as political writer in March of 1991 after 42 years as an Evansville newspaperman. He has covered just about every beat there is on a newspaper, but politics had been his forte since the 1950s.

He covered local, state and national politics, including several national political party conventions, and the Indiana General Assembly.

He wrote a twice weekly column using a mythical character, the Swami of Political Knowledge as the theme. The columns often carried imaginary conversations with the Swami who would enlighten him on the motives behind some political puzzle.

“It was a good way to take care of something you knew to be true by you can’t ever get anybody to say,” Bob once said of the Swami. Politicians often tried to figure out who was passing along the sensitive information on political theories espoused by the Swami.

Another Flynn device was the Little Vanderburgh County. It was a precinct on Evansville’s North Side that served as an accurate weather vane for Evansville elections. His polls of Little Vanderburgh County accurately predicted 16 of 17 elections.

“Despite my interest in politics, I believe some of the court trials I covered were even more interesting,” Flynn recently said. One was that of the notorious “mad dog killer” Leslie Irvin.
Flynn also likes to recall that he was born on July 4, 1914, at Syracuse, New York. “Fireworks were being exploded throughout the city,” he said. “My mother, a Canadian, remarked at the time that the people were overdoing their observation of a family event.”

Flynn worked on newspapers at Wichita, Kansas, and Houston, Texas, before going to Evansville in 1949.
In his last column on March 26, 1991, Flynn discussed some of the people whom he had met, including President Harry Truman, whom he accompanied on one of Truman’s famous early morning walks.

Because of that and other events in his life as a reporter, Flynn said in the column that “I can’t imagine doing any other kind of work” and that his 42 years as a reporter passed quickly.

In that final column Flynn also wrote:
“We who stay in this field come to regard it as a way of life and we know it spoils us for other kinds of work. That’s why you see old codgers working at it long after they should be taking it easy.”

Many honors have been accorded Flynn, including the Distinguished Service to Journalism Award, which was presented by the Cardinal States Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Robert Flynn, a congenial Irishman, now a worthy member of the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame.


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