What do 89-year-old Fields Flynn and 3-year-old Alida Finetti have in common?
Well, both share the distinction of serving as Irish Days royalty for this year’s 29th annual festival, which celebrates Lakeview’s long-standing Irish heritage. The duo will be formally introduced at the Friday, March 14, Soroptimists Irish Days dinner, planned this year at the Lakeview Elks Lodge, and will also be prominently featured in the Saturday, March 15, Irish Days parade.
Finetti, the daughter of Chris and Abigail Finetti and sister to Matt, 6, is the sole Wee Leprechaun honoree in her immediate family. Already well engaged in the spirit of the Irish Days festivities, Finetti arrived for her big photo shoot at the Examiner office with a plateful of Irish-themed cookies and is reportedly very much excited for this year’s event.
Mother Abigail noted that her daughter is very excited to debut her new dress for the occasion. As for her own Irish heritage, Alida marks the sixth generation of Tracys born in Lakeview. The Tracy family, Abigail said, moved to Lakeview from Ireland’s Tipperary and Limrick counties in the 1800s.
Flynn, similarly, has an extensive family history in Lakeview, with his father, John Michael O’Flynn, arriving from Ireland in 1901. He recalled that his father grew up in an extremely austere household, featuring dirt floors.
“They were very rustic,” he said.
The change from ‘O’Flynn’ to Flynn was, in fact, a paperwork action upon his arrival. Flynn’s uncle, Richard, came over about five years later.
“My dad said when he arrived here he didn’t have enough pencil to the ‘O’ on the form,” Flynn said.
Flynn recalled his father arrived as an indentured Irishman, with a gentleman named Charlie Sherlock fronting the money to bring him over from Ireland. Both John and Richard initially worked as a sheep rancher. At one time, John had 4,200 head of sheep, and brother Richard 4,300 head.
“That’s a lot of woolies,” Flynn said.
Later, John invested in gold mines, but the Depression era hit hard and he found work as a town police officer. With a pay of $75 per month, this position required John to be on call 24 hours per day, Flynn said. Tim Murphy served as the night policeman.
John later married Dola Garrett, and the couple had three sons: Millis, Noel and, last but not least, this year’s Grand Leprechaun.
“I’m the baby,” he said.
After graduating from Lakeview High School in 1943, Flynn served 2.5 years in the Navy, stationed at Midway. During his years of service, he attended both diesel and submarine training schools and, following two years of college upon his return, he married high school sweetheart Betty June Rogers on April 21, 1946, and the couple settled in Lakeview. The couple had three children, with daughter Dawn and son and daughter-in-law Roger and Christine all currently living in Arizona, and daughter and son-in-law Patty and Gary Heeter living in Bend.
Flynn’s working life through the years included sharing ownership of Flynn’s Furniture and Appliance for more than 20 years with his brother Millis. He’s also owned a storage facility north of town for the past 21 years.
Through the years, his community involvement has included 61 years as a Lakeview Elks member and long-time membership with First Presbyterian Church.
Flynn is an adamant supporter of preserving the area’s Irish heritage, and said he feels the Irish Days festival is a positive way to maintain this history.
“Without the Irish, we wouldn’t have a town,” he said. “I think it’s a great thing to keep it going. I’m happy that this continues, and hope that it goes on for another 20 years.”