Best-selling author Vince Flynn loses cancer battle at 47 - KMSP-TV

Best-selling author Vince Flynn loses prostate cancer battle at 47

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  • Vince Flynn obituary

    Vince Flynn obituary

    Thursday, June 20 2013 4:42 PM EDT2013-06-20 20:42:48 GMT
    Ambushed by stage III metastatic prostate cancer in November 2010, author Vince Flynn fought for life as tenaciously as the characters he created, but closed the final chapter with peaceful surrender.
    Ambushed by stage III metastatic prostate cancer in November 2010, author Vince Flynn fought for life as tenaciously as the characters he created, but closed the final chapter with peaceful surrender on June 19, 2013.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

Vince Flynn, a New York Times best-selling author and Minnesota native, passed away Wednesday morning with his family by his side after battling prostate cancer for two and a half years.

Flynn is survived by his parents, six siblings, wife -- Lysa Flynn -- and their three children. A Mass of Christian Burial has been scheduled for Monday morning at the Cathedral of St. Paul, with visitation preceding the service. The time will be finalized and announced on Thursday.

The last of a nine-day novena, also known as a consecutive prayer service, planned in St. Paul to pray for healing took a somber turn on Wednesday with news of Flynn's death. Nativity of Our Lord in St. Paul opened its doors at 5 p.m. anyway.

Friends told FOX 9 News Flynn was a man of deep Catholic faith, and it was important for them to move forward with the prayer service as they say their goodbyes.

Flynn, who had been battling stage three metastatic prostate cancer since 2010, died at a St. Paul hospital at the age of 47 with 35 friends and relatives nearby, praying the Rosary. He was best known for his counter-terrorism thriller novels, and he sold more than 15 million copies of the 14 books he published.

Flynn worked as a bartender at O'Gara's in St. Paul to support himself as he self-published his first book, "Term Limits." Friends there remember him as "Vinny," a resilient and determined man who "never let fame and fortune change him."

"It's hard. He was a big part of our life here for a long time," Dan O'Gara, owner of the bar, told FOX 9 News.

O'Gara explained that he doesn't remember Flynn as a the wordsmith behind over a dozen popular counter-terrorism thrillers. Instead, he remembers a top-shelf bartender who became a close friend.

"He worked here for three years while he was writing his book, and didn't have a lot of luck," O'Gara recalled. "He was so determined that he self-published."

In 1997, "Term Limits" became a local best seller despite other publishers sending more than 60 rejection letters over the manuscript. As it started to take off, Pocket Books -- a Simon & Schuster imprint -- signed Flynn to a two-book deal as his first rose to become a New York Times best-seller in paperback.

Even then, O'Gara said Flynn stayed humble as fortune and fame found him.

"He never forgot where he came from -- his roots or his friends," O'Gara said.

Flynn even counted former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton among his fans, as well as foreign leaders and intelligence community figures.

Flynn was born to an Irish Catholic family in St. Paul, the fifth of seven children. Flynn graduated from the University of St. Thomas in 1988 with an economics degree and was an aviation candidate for the Marine Corps in 1990, but was later disqualified due to seizures he suffered after a childhood car accident. 

Thwarted from becoming a military aviator, he got the idea to write thrillers.

"If (Tom) Clancy could do it, why can't I?" Flynn said in a 2005 interview with The Associated Press.

Flynn told the AP that with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the end of the Cold War, he decided to write about terrorism.

"That's where the future's going. That's going to be the next big menace," Flynn recalled telling himself.

Flynn also helped dozens of charities in the Twin Cities and around the country -- including Tee It Up for the Troops and Grove Academy. Some of his philanthropic efforts focused specifically on military families and children with learning disabilities. Flynn himself was dyslexic and struggled with some subjects in school.

CELEBRITIES SAY GOODBYE

Several celebrities took to Twitter on Wednesday after learning of Flynn's passage.

American actor Aaron Eckhart

Author Brad Thor

Radio host Glenn Beck

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