It’s Christmas time, and nobody I know is more appropriate to light the town’s Christmas tree than Tom and Joyce Flynn. They were chosen to perform this on Dec. 2.
This ubiquitous Fairfield couple have been lighting our way since they settled in town in 1966. You might run out of fingers before you are able to count all of the non-profits, school, civic and church groups they’ve assisted -- or led -- through the years.
. The Jaycees. . Caroline House. Little League. PTA councils at , , and Andrew Warde High School. advisory council. Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. “Tom was a den mother,” Joyce says with a laugh. Mill River Wetlands. Emmaus, RCIA and other lay ministries at . The and libraries.
“Our life is family, community and church,” explains Joyce. “The people I met that night I joined the League of Women Voters 45 years ago…I grew up with them. We’ve had babies together. I still get together with these people today.”
“This is where our community is. We have no plans to go to Florida,” says Tom, who seems to have increased his volunteerism since his retirement in 2000 from Pitney Bowes, where he spent 30 years as manager of business planning and in other strategic positions.
“I coached Little League for five years. I love it when somebody I coached 30 years ago, who is now overweight and bald, comes up to me in a supermarket and says, ‘Do you remember me?’”
“I love the idea of being at a stoplight,” Joyce chimes in, “and I see someone I taught in school.”
Joyce Flynn (nee O’Flynn, believe it or not) spent 28 years as an educator -- when she wasn’t giving birth to, and raising, their four children, Tommy, 48; Kevin, 47; Paul, 45, and Ginny, 42. At first, she was a para-professional, but after squeezing in time to earn a master’s degree in special education at , she spent 18 years as a special ed teacher at
She chuckles about her “starring” role in the student-faculty basketball game during her final year (2004) at Tomlinson. “I made two free throws…underhanded,” she says. “I went out on a high.”
The Flynns are natives of Portland, Maine, which is where they met at a dance at Tom’s Jesuit high school, Cheverus. Tom already was a freshman at Boston College. They were married on June 30, 1962 -- meaning there is a special anniversary on the horizon. (No plans set just yet. “It’s a family decision,” Joyce says.)
For the past 35 years, the Flynns have lived in a colonial on Sachem Road in the Stratfield section. Before that, it was a home on Lisbon Drive.
“When we moved to Sachem Road, we were the young people and the only ones with children,” Tom says. “Fairfield is a great place to live. We’re as busy as we want to be…which is busy.”
Perhaps some of their most rewarding volunteer activities took place with Emmaus, an experience in which adults -- both laity and priests -- and teens work together to put on a spiritual weekend for a group of young “candidates.” The Flynns handled virtually every role, from MUMS (Mop-up Ministry) to Auxiliary, from table leader to rector.
“There’s a bond there,” Joyce notes. “You could call up somebody in the middle of the night if you needed something, and they’d come.”
Out of necessity, Joyce added another group to her repertoire in recent years -- the breast cancer support group at St. Vincent’s Medical Center. Both Joyce and Tom are cancer survivors. “I love going there to give them support, to give them affirmation and to give them hope,” she says.
“When people meet Joyce, they see her as an example of what survivors can do,” Tom says.
Countless others would have similar praise for the male half of this remarkable couple.