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Joseph Flannery

Joseph Flannery

 Flannery, Joseph “Joe” Patrick, the former Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Uniroyal, Inc., passed away peacefully at the age of 87 at his home in Wellesley, Mass., on October 20, 2019, surrounded by his loving family. Joe was born in Lowell, Mass., in 1932, the only child of Joseph Patrick Flannery and Mary Egan Flannery. After his father died when he was 4 years old, Joe and his mother moved to his mother’s childhood home in Lowell where they lived with his aunt and grandfather. His mother returned to teaching to make sure that Joe had all the opportunities that other children had. In the summer, Joe went to Boy Scout camp, cultivating a life-long interest in the outdoors, and took vacations at Hampton Beach, N.H., with his mother and aunt. At the age of 13, Joe became the youngest Eagle Scout in Lowell.  

Joe graduated from St. Peter’s Catholic School and Keith Academy and received a Bachelor of Science degree in textile chemistry in 1953 from the Lowell Textile Institute, now UMass Lowell. After graduating from college, he enrolled at Harvard Business School where he received an MBA in 1955. In 1954, he began dating Margaret Barrows, whom he married in June 1957 at St. Margaret’s Church in Lowell, where they met. 

In 1959, Joe joined Uniroyal Chemical Company as a research chemist. He moved into sales and marketing and advanced through the company, becoming president of Uniroyal Chemical in 1975. In 1977, he became executive vice president of Uniroyal Inc., and, later that same year, he was elected president, chief operating officer and director of Uniroyal. In 1980, he was elected chief executive officer and, in 1982, became chairman.

Joe was widely credited with turning Uniroyal around, a company that was in deep financial trouble. In 1980, Uniroyal was a global company with $2B in sales and 21,000 employees with businesses in tires, chemicals and plastics. He negotiated a successful agreement with the United Rubber Workers in 1980, closed plants and established favorable banking agreements. He clearly played a key role, but he was always quick to point out his management team’s contributions and employee efforts in overhauling the company and bringing it back to profitability. He was especially proud of thwarting a hostile takeover bid in 1985 and ensuring that many employees maintained their jobs. 

With his accomplishments and track record at Uniroyal, Joe’s counsel became highly valued and frequently sought. As an independent director for over 20 years, Joe leveraged his experience, wisdom and good judgment to provide direction to the leadership teams of various businesses. He became a member of the board of directors of The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, Kmart, Ingersoll-Rand, ArvinMeritor, Newmont Mining, Scovill, APS, Amstar and Kendall. For several years, he also served as a partner at Clayton & Dubilier Inc., a private equity firm based in New York City.  

Joe and Margaret moved to Cheshire, Conn., in 1959, where they raised their six children and lived for almost 40 years. Joe was a loving husband and devoted father who showed his family the importance of hard work, faith and humility. He shared his passion for fishing, playing golf and watching Boston sports teams (Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins and Patriots), as well as a love of the ocean and mountains, with his family. He enjoyed golfing with his wife and sons at Waterbury Country Club, Vesper Country Club, Oyster Harbors Club and The Country Club of Florida, where he belonged for many years, as well as courses around the U.S. and the world. He was a devout Catholic and shared his faith with his family. He was an altar boy for many years and encouraged his sons to serve. He became a Knight of Malta in 1986. He and his wife were eucharistic ministers at St. John the Evangelist Church after they moved to Wellesley in 1998. He loved being at home with his wife in Wellesley, and in Harwichport, Mass., in the summer and Ocean Ridge, Fla., for winter vacations. He looked forward to frequent visits with his children and their families.

In addition to his wife, Margaret, of 62 years, he leaves six children: Mary (Jeff Burn) of New York City, Diane Knight (James) of Bronxville, N.Y., Joseph Patrick (Suzanne) of Acton, Mass., James (Joanne) of Middleton, Mass., David (Jeanne) of Wellesley, Mass., and Elizabeth of Newton, Mass.; and 13 grandchildren: Matthew, Jennifer, Natalie and Margaret Knight, Allison, Joseph Patrick and Sarah Flannery, Athan, Emme and Dean Reppas, and Bridget, Grace and Meghan Flannery.  

Joe’s family is eternally grateful to the doctors at Mass General Hospital and for the caregivers who were with him 24 hours a day for over a year. Through their expertise and compassionate care, Joe was blessed with seven wonderful weeks on Cape Cod with his wife and family this past summer.

A funeral Mass will be held on Saturday, October 26, at St. John the Evangelist Church at 9 Glen Road in Wellesley, Mass., at 9:30 a.m. Visiting hours are on Friday, October 25, from 4 to 7 p.m. at George F. Doherty & Sons Funeral Home, 477 Washington St. (Rt. 16), Wellesley, Mass. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Joe’s name to Catholic Charities, 275 West Broadway, Boston, MA 02127 or Catholic Relief Services, P.O. Box 17090, Baltimore, MD 21297-0303. For directions and online guestbook, go to gfdoherty.com.

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