By Brett Nolan
Following in the footsteps of his parents, Theodore J. Flynn took ownership of the store and lived in the residence above it. One could buy gas, feed, hardware and general goods at this corner store. Under Theodore Flynn’s leadership, the shop continued to be known as an institution for the area and a meeting place for many.
Flynn never went to high school because his father needed him to help run the store, but that didn’t stop him from realizing the business potential in Mandarin. As the small community grew, he knew he needed to find bigger space. In 1958, he built a new store on San Jose Boulevard and Westberry Road. There, his business flourished as Flynn’s Ace Hardware and Feed Company.
Theodore Flynn was known to run an excellent business in both locations. He knew almost everyone in the community, but would commonly forget customers’ names. He would write the car models on receipts to identify customers, and it was up to his daughter, Wanda, to remember their names to charge the correct account. All of Flynn’s children worked in his store to keep it going. Flynn retired when he was 75 in 1973 and handed it over to his son Ronnie, who eventually sold the business. Theodore died in 1989 at the age of 77.
Theodore Flynn spent his entire life working for the betterment of Mandarin. During WWII, he was the captain of the Mandarin Volunteer Police. He served on the Mandarin Volunteer Fire Department and helped represent Mandarin during Jacksonville’s consolidation efforts in the late 1960s. Flynn was the president of the Mandarin Athletic Association (MAA) and president of the Mandarin Cemetery. Flynn was always quick to cook up “wonderful fried chicken” dinners to benefit local organizations like the Loretto School, the Church of our Saviour, the MAA, and more — time and time again.
The stories behind the house at the corner of Loretto and Flynn embodies what every Mandarinite should strive to be — neighborly. It is important that we carry on the torch — the kindness and generosity Theodore Flynn showed towards Mandarin — for generations to come. His former store reminds us of the importance of getting involved in our community. Many saw Theodore Flynn as a great influence for them to do so, and today, let this historic house remind you to do the same.
(Note: Most of the information for this article was taken from news interviews with Theodore Flynn.)
Brett Nolan is a volunteer with the Mandarin Museum & Historical Society. Visit www.mandarinmuseum.net to learn more about Mandarin’s history.
Photo courtesy Mandarin Museum & Historical Society
The Flynn store, pictured as it looks today.