At a time when most people are thinking about retirement, or have already retired for several years, Joan Flynn works as the Director of Community Outreach for the Town of Warren, serving on the Board of Trustees of Macomb Community College. , hosting two television shows for television. Warren and works as an activist for women and the elderly.
Flynn turned 90 earlier this month and shows no signs of slowing down.
“I think seniors need to get involved,” Flynn said. “They say if you retire, you breathe out. You have to be there to do something.
Flynn had a modest upbringing in Pennsylvania where her father abandoned his family when she was very young and left her mother alone to raise them. When her mother broke her back falling from a playground swing, Flynn and her siblings were placed in a youth home. Her mother eventually recovered and came to work as a laundress in the children’s home.
“She stayed there in another building and we were allowed to see her for two hours every Sunday,” Flynn said. “But she didn’t have a say in our education.”
Flynn was taken from the children’s home by her sister and taken to Michigan where she first attended Lincoln High School, then attended Detroit Catholic School at Nativity of Our Lord.
“I started smoking when I was in Lincoln, so my sister Gertrude said she would straighten me up, so I went to live with her on Holcomb Street in Detroit,” Flynn said.
She never imagined that at the age of 40, when she got her first job sweeping floors at MOPAR, she would still be working at 90. For 27 years, she was the wife and mother of seven children until a divorce prompted her to seek employment.
“I got a job as a sweeper in what was then the MOPAR warehouse,” said Flynn. “MOPAR was part of Chrysler at the time and they paid you to go to college if you got a C or better, so I decided to go to school. I ended up getting a human resources degree with a concentration in labor studies from Oakland University after earning an associate degree from Macomb Community College. I was 45 when I first went to college.
While Flynn worked at MOPAR in Warren, he was purchased by General Dynamics Land Systems. She worked there for 18 years, first in maintenance and then in the office.
“I was driving a big scrubber and I spilled something while driving it, so they promoted me,” Flynn said. “They were like ‘get her out of here’ and I was working in the office, which was a whole new thing to me.”
Flynn worked at General Dynamics for 18 years, during which time she formed a corporate golf league and became president of the management club.
“When I retired in 1994, I had to do something,” Flynn said. “That’s when I decided to run for public office.
With the support and encouragement of her second husband, John Adleman, Flynn ran for a place on the Macomb County Board of Commissioners and lost her first candidacy, but won the election the second time she ran. Flynn served on the Council of Commissioners for 18 years until 2011, when she retired.
“When I was a board member it was at a time when the elderly really worried about having their social security taken away and I wanted to fight for the elderly because I was a senior. and there are many of us in Macomb County, ”says Flynn.
Just as she couldn’t stay inactive when she retired from General Dynamics, she couldn’t stay home after she retired from the board. She became the Town of Warren’s Community Outreach Coordinator in 2011 and currently hosts Senior Update and Life is Good on TV Warren. In 2018, she was elected to the Macomb College Board of Trustees; his mandate expires in December 2024.
“I’m always very straightforward,” Flynn said. “Last night at the MCC meeting they were buying chairs from Utah and I said, ‘You mean there’s no place in Michigan where we can buy chairs for a better price. ? And everyone thinks, ‘She’s a rebel’.
She maintains her message to seniors to stay active and involved.
“I think there is an opportunity out there, regardless of your age,” Flynn said. “Get involved; even if you just get involved by going to a meeting.
Outside of work and his political endeavors, Flynn remains physically and mentally active. She golfs weekly at Maple Lane Golf Course, enjoys cycling, is an avid gamer, plays the organ and has completed several adult coloring books. If you take a look in his garage, you’ll see his new white Dodge Challenger.
“I still keep my mind and have a Canadian Club cocktail every night,” said Flynn.
And as important as her career has been to her, Flynn remains very family-oriented. Her second husband died in 2014, but she has seven children, 15 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren. A tall, narrow Christmas tree in her home office displays ornaments with the names and photos of each of her descendants. As active as she is, she admits that there are days when she feels all 90 years old.
“If I run the vacuum, I have to rest for the rest of the day,” Flynn said, only half-joking.
The secret to her longevity, she says, is being a half-full person and focusing on the positive.
“If you do well with people, you’ll have a good life,” Flynn said. “Don’t hold back that bitterness. It’s the worst thing you can do.”