David Flanagan

MANCHESTER – David Flanagan, the public sector “turnaround specialist” of his generation, died at home on Oct. 13, 2021, from pancreatic cancer.

Central Maine Power, the University of Southern Maine, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, were three of the many civic institutions that David helped lead out of crisis to stability. The iconic and lasting image of Flanagan is wearing a hard hat in the driving snow consulting with CMP line workers about how to restore power after the devastating 1998 Ice Storm.

David Thomas Flanagan was born in Bangor on June 28, 1947, the son of Thomas Shea Flanagan and Constance Coleman Flanagan, both members of the “greatest generation” of Americans. David was the first of eight children. The family lived in Hampden and then Portland. In an early sign of his leadership skills, David was elected president of the class of ’65 at Deering High School. David went on to Harvard College, Kings College of the University of London, and Boston College Law School.

In 1974, David married his lifelong partner, friend, and advisor, the former Kathleen Kelleher, at Two Lights State Park. Kaye and David have spent their lives together making Maine a better place through their board memberships and charitable efforts. They have also enjoyed boating on Cobbosseecontee Lake with family and friends, and traveling together to over 60 foreign lands.

During law school, David worked as staff to the Maine Senate, where he befriended an up-and-coming politician named Joe Brennan. He then worked as attorney to the newly created Maine Bureau of Public Lands, addressing controversial issues of public lands and spruce budworm management. In 1978, David became general counsel to newly elected Governor Joseph Brennan, and for four years guided administration efforts to invest in ports and economic development, create OUI laws, and manage the budget.

Flanagan went on to the law firm of Pierce Atwood. Among his clients was Central Maine Power (CMP), then suffering from the effects of rising rates and declining public confidence. Flanagan soon was the CEO of CMP, closed Maine Yankee, brought costs below the rate of inflation, restored public approval, and led the CMP through the historic Ice Storm. Twenty years after Flanagan left CMP, he returned once more in 2020, in the last act of his career, to again right the ship.

“Righting the ship” was the pattern of David’s career. He served as general counsel to the U.S. Senate Homeland Security’s study of what went wrong with FEMA during Hurricane Katrina, which led to important reforms in the agency. David helped the University of Maine dig out under financial difficulties and reimagine its future as chair of two important study commissions, chair of the board of trustees, and later president of the University of Southern Maine. He helped the affordable housing provider Preservation Management, Inc., straighten out management systems around the country as its president.

In the early 1990s, following the fall of the Berlin Wall, Flanagan became involved in international redevelopment. He helped the University of Maine guide the founding of the American University in Bulgaria (AUGB), a post-Cold War institution designed to introduce young Bulgarians and other Eastern Europeans to the ideas and tools of democracy and free enterprise. Flanagan went on to serve as a member of the board of trustees for the AUBG, then as chair of that board, for more than a decade. Today the American University of Bulgaria has about 1,000 students, and the number one-ranked programs in the country for management, communications, and information sciences.

Over the years, David provided invaluable leadership to nonprofit organizations seeking to improve the quality of life in Maine and beyond. David and Kaye helped fund a new building for the Children’s Center of Augusta in 2001, and now, 20 years later, as with CMP, he and Kaye led an effort to fund a doubling in size of that building. David has chaired boards of the Nature Conservancy, the Kennebec County United Way, and numerous state legislative commissions. Most recently, he served on the board of the Alfond Foundation, whose activities promoting education and economic development were close to his heart. David also helped small Maine businesses to thrive, serving on the boards of DeLorme Publishing, Dingley Press, Lee Auto Group, Thomas Moser, Maine and Company, and Dead River.

For all of this work, Flanagan won numerous awards, including an honorary degree from Thomas College, a Jefferson award for community service, leadership awards from the Greater Portland and State Chambers of Commerce, and the Claddagh Award winner for the Maine Irish Heritage Center in 2018.

David is known for his curiosity, his analytical mind, his following of the facts wherever they lead, his humor and kindness, his persistence at getting to answers, his loyalty, his fearlessness. David loved Maine, and he knew every corner of the state; part of his leadership skill was understanding how to bring Maine people along when change was needed. He put all of these skills to work for the betterment of Maine for the last half-century.

David also had lesser, but still memorable, accomplishments. He scored the highest of any participant in the public television show “So You Think You Know Maine,” winning the prize of two boxes of Maine sardines and a clam rake. And in his basement, David created a fleet of model ships from all eras accurate to the finest level of detail.

David Flanagan was predeceased by his parents, Thomas Shea Flanagan and Constance Coleman Flanagan; and by his sister, Martha Whitener.

He is survived by his wife, Kathleen “Kaye” Flanagan; siblings Terrence W. Flanagan (wife Hope Hilton), Paula J. Dobrow (husband Richard), Nora D. Flanagan, Peter A. Flanagan, Lisa E. Flanagan, Mark N. Flanagan (wife Maggie); and nieces and nephews Liam, Patrick, Rachel, Ethan, Luke, Samuel, Zachary, Dan, Arista, Rory, Tom, Loic, Atticus, Quilla, Moxie, and Augusta; and numerous grandnieces and nephews.

There will be a celebration of David’s life held on Saturday, Nov. 6, at 11 a.m. at Hannaford Hall on the University of Southern Maine campus, at 88 Bedford St. in Portland. All are welcome. We ask that people attending the service have a Covid vaccination, wear a mask, and to social distance. For those who cannot be there in person, the celebration will be streamed live on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/athutchinsfuneral/ and also on A.T. Hutchins Funeral Home’s website at http://www.athutchins.com and selecting David’s obituary.

To share memories of David or to offer online condolences to the Kaye and the Flanagan family, please visit, http://www.athutchins.com

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the

Children’s Center of Augusta,

1 Alden Ave.,

Augusta, ME 04330

(or through its website at


David Flanagan

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