Patricia Bernadette Flanagan, 90, died peacefully, Friday, August 23, 2019, in Seattle, WA, surrounded by her loved ones. Bernadette was born in Kilmaley, Ennis, County Clare Ireland, February 28, 1929, to Nora and John Murphy and was the youngest of nine children. She was preceded in death by her beloved husband of 42 years, James Joseph Flanagan and her cherished foster daughter Adela (Charlie) Anderson; seven siblings Joe, J.J., Evie and Mick of Ireland; Mary of Camp Hill, PA; Beatrice of Long Island, NY; and Rita (Rev. Mother Bernadette) of Guernsey, Channel Isles. She is survived by her children, Mary (Ralph) Taylor of Fredericksburg, VA; Ann (Ron) Peaslee of Helena; Jim (Judy) of Bluffton, SC; Theresa (Dan) Kjelland of Seattle, WA; Veronica (Craig) Adams of Tucson, AZ; Rita of Spokane, WA; Doug of Los Angeles, CA; Michael of Helena; and, David (Dani) of Seattle, WA. She is also survived by her sister, Evelyn O’Sullivan of London. She was the proud grandmother of thirteen: Jennifer (Brent) Koning and Jason (Kelsey) Peaslee; Jacob (Laura), Meaghan (Gordon) and Kristin (Sean) Kjelland; Emily (Josh) Gleisberg, Vince and Sean Adams; Jacky Flanagan; Elie, Eva and Stella Flanagan; and Mollie Taylor. She had four precious great grandchildren, Foster, Matilda and Ed Koning (with another on the way); and Clara Kjelland. She is also survived by nearly 40 nieces and nephews in Ireland, England, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
Although she always held Ireland close to her heart, Bernadette’s life was the American dream. She immigrated in 1950 from County Clare, Ireland to New York City, at 20 years old. In New York she was governess and cook for the Fisk/Harriman family. At the same time, her future husband, Jim, was attending Fordham University in the Bronx, NY. They met at a church dance. He always said she wouldn’t let go of his hand, but at their 40th Anniversary he admitted it was the other way around. They were married in upstate New York in 1955 by her cousin, Fr. James Griffin. They moved to Jim’s beloved Montana, settling in Helena, which was her home until her death.
Bernadette was an extraordinary seamstress, forever sewing, while raising her nine children. She loved to dance, even taking to the dance floor at her granddaughter’s wedding earlier this month. She was a tireless walker, a world traveler, she loved to read, and loved to play bridge. She was a member of Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church in Helena and before that the Cathedral of St. Helena. She was a long time volunteer at Helena Food Share. She will be remembered for her loving spirit and willingness to help, having taken in and cared for so many in need through her 65 years in Helena. It is impossible to count the many lives she touched through her service to the community and her church. Her independent spirit was an inspiration to her family, friends and all who were privileged to know her.
Cremation has taken place. A celebration of her life is scheduled for 11:00 am on Friday, November 29, 2019 at Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church. A reception will follow in the OLV Faith Formation Center. In lieu of flowers, Bernadette requested that donations be made to Helena Food Share, P.O. Box 943, Helena, MT 59624-0943.
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Helena Food Share
PO Box 943, Helena MT 59624-0943