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Dan Flynn, who served 18 years in the Texas House, has died at 79

By James Barragán, The Texas Tribune

Dan Flynn, who served 18 years in the Texas House, has died at 79” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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Former state Rep. Dan Flynn, who represented Van Zandt County in the Texas House for 18 years, died Friday morning, according to his family. He was 79.

“Chairman, Representative and Brigadier General Dan Flynn passed away peacefully this morning,” the Flynn family wrote in a post on his campaign Facebook page. “He was a wonderful father to Josh, Tammy and Missy and dearly loved his wife Susan. He was also a great friend to many as well as a Texas hero who passed many good bills for Texans and many to protect us on the border and to keep Texas Military forces strong.”

The post did not state the cause of death. Details for Flynn’s funeral have not been released.

Gov. Greg Abbott said he and his wife, Cecilia, were saddened by Flynn’s passing.

“Representative Flynn was a man of exceptional character, who served his constituents faithfully and fought to uphold the fundamental freedoms that Texans value. From advocating for the right of public schools to display the Ten Commandments in the classroom, to serving as the Chairman of the Defense and Veterans’ Affairs Committee and Chairman of the Pensions Committee, Representative Flynn leaves behind an impressive legacy of leadership and selfless service to the people of Texas,” Abbott said in a statement. “Representative Flynn will be dearly missed, and our prayers go out to his wife and family during this time of grief.”

“Dan Flynn served our nation, this state and the people of Texas House District 2 with honor and integrity,” House Speaker Dade Phelan said in a statement. “Kim and I extend our condolences to the Flynn family and will keep them in our prayers.”

During his time in the House, Flynn served as chair of the Defense and Veterans’ Affairs Committee and the Pensions Committee. In 2017, as the leader of the Pensions Committee, he helped broker a deal to save the troubled Dallas Police and Fire Pension System from insolvency. Without the bill’s changes to state law, the pension could have gone broke within the decade.

Flynn was also co-chair of the Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations, which censured University of Texas Regent Wallace Hall in 2014 for his drawn-out investigations of administrators at the University of Texas at Austin. Hall believed the university had unduly allowed lawmakers to influence the admissions process.

Flynn was a consultant in the financial and banking industry and served as deputy banking commissioner for the state.

He also served much of his life in the military, including the U.S. Army, the Texas Army National Guard and the Texas State Guard. He joined the Texas State Guard in 2005 and deployed on state active duty to respond to multiple natural disasters. In 2016, Gov. Greg Abbott promoted him to brigadier general.

In 2020, Flynn lost his reelection campaign to Rep. Bryan Slaton of Royse City in a primary runoff. Slaton was funded by Empower Texans, a hardline conservative group that over the last decade has focused on ousting Republican incumbents it does not deem conservative enough.

Flynn was a close ally of former House Speaker Joe Straus, a business-minded Republican who served five terms at the helm of the lower chamber and was frequently a target of his party’s right wing.

“Dan loved serving his community in the Legislature and was especially proud to work on issues impacting his fellow Veterans. He was friendly to anyone he met and always upbeat — even in tense moments, he kept his cool and was kind to those around him, whether they agreed on politics or not,” Straus said in a statement. “Most of all, Dan was a person who served proudly, from his exemplary service in the military to his time as a citizen legislator. Julie and I will always be grateful for Dan’s friendship and our thoughts are with Susan and their entire family during this difficult time.”

Prior to his time in the House, Flynn served as Van Zandt county judge.

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