NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Kent Flanagan, a longtime journalist and open government advocate who spent 21 years as Tennessee's bureau chief for The Associated Press, died Wednesday. He was 69.
Flanagan's wife, Janet, said he died at home Wednesday after a long illness.
Flanagan worked nearly 40 years as a journalist, starting with newspapers in Texas and Florida before joining the AP in Pennsylvania in 1979 as a newsman.
"I've been a journalist since the age of 12," Flanagan told the Williamson Herald in Franklin., Tennessee, in April 2012. "I got drafted in middle school to write sports for the student newspaper, and kept going."
Like many of his AP colleagues at the time, the news cooperative moved him around the nation, first to South Carolina as news editor and then to North Dakota as administrative correspondent. In 1983, he was named bureau chief in Tennessee in Nashville, where he oversaw news and sales until he departed in 2004.
As bureau chief, Flanagan directed news coverage of major stories in Tennessee and personally covered the first execution in the state in more than 40 years in 2000.
After AP, he served four years as journalist in residence at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, and just over two years as editor of the Shelbyville Times-Gazette.
Most recently, Flanagan served from 2012 to 2013 as executive director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, a nonprofit alliance of media, citizen and professional groups that works to educate the public about open meetings and open records laws.
Flanagan, a Ballinger, Texas native, graduated from Angelo State University in 1968 and served four years in the Army. After completing his military service, he worked for the Fort Lauderdale News and Sun-Sentinel in Florida and the San Antonio Express-News before he joined the AP.
Flanagan requested that no services be held in his memory. A scholarship fund will be established in his honor.