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William J. Flynn Jr., former State Supreme Court justice; Jan. 27, 1916 -- Jan. 14, 2011

William J. Flynn Jr., a former State Supreme Court justice and respected leader in the Western New York legal community, died Friday in the Center for Hospice and Palliative Care, Cheektowaga. He was 94.

Mr. Flynn was born in Buffalo. He graduated from Culver Military Academy in Culver, Ind., where he rode in the renowed Black Horse Troop that escorted then-President Herbert Hoover in 1932 and took part that same year in the Chicago World's Fair.

He graduated from Canisius College and the University of Buffalo School of Law.

His service in the Army during World War II took him to the island of Luzon in the Philippines and to Japan after that country's surrender. He left the service as a major.

After the war, he practiced as an attorney in a Buffalo litigation firm with his father, the late William J. Flynn.

Mr. Flynn was appointed to the State Court of Claims by Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller and later assigned to State Supreme Court, where he served until 1986, including a one-year posting in New York City.

A Buffalo Evening News survey in 1982, completed by more than 400 local lawyers rating the area's judiciary, ranked Flynn first among 21 State Supreme Court justices and second among all judges overall, on knowledge of the law, impartiality, judicial temperament, and qualities of industry and promptness.

"I hold him in the highest regard, and whenever I've spoken of him to other lawyers over the years, if they knew him -- and very often they did -- they would say the same things," said attorney Arthur Ackerhalt, who was a confidential law clerk when Mr. Flynn was a judge.

"They would talk about how intelligent he was, how fair he was and how they knew they were getting a fair shake because he was extremely thorough and conscientious, and his decisions were well-considered.

"He was an excellent judge and a real gentleman in every sense of the word."

Mr. Flynn was a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the International Academy of Trial Lawyers and the International Society of Barristers. He was 1969-70 president of the Bar Association of Erie County, 1959-60 president of the Trial Lawyers Association of Erie County and 1961-62 chairman of the Trial Lawyers Section, New York State Bar Association.

Mr. Flynn received the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1971 from the University of Buffalo Law School Alumni Association.

After retirement, Mr. Flynn, a longtime Amherst resident, volunteered as a religious instructor for fourth-graders at Christ the King School in Snyder. He was a long-standing member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

Survivors include his wife of 67 years, Carolyn Taylor Flynn; two sons, William J. III and Michael Taylor; a daughter, Barbara Carlton Flynn; and a sister, Rosemary Flynn Lynch.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in Christ the King Church, 30 Lamarck Drive, Snyder.


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