Shirley E. Flynn

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Shirley Elaine Smith Flynn
Born(1929-02-07)February 7, 1929
DiedDecember 8, 2013(2013-12-08) (aged 84)
ResidenceCheyenne, Wyoming
Alma materNorthwestern University
Spouse(s)Lloyd A. Flynn (married 1952-2002, his death)[1]
  • Carol Rush
  • Kathryn Elaine "Kay" Hauser
  • Lloyd Rader Flynn
Parent(s)J. Edward and Ethel G. Smith

Shirley Elaine Smith Flynn (February 7, 1929 – December 8, 2013)[2] was an American author and local historian in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Her best-known book is a history of the Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo, a popular event held annually since 1897. She was instrumental in the founding of the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum. In September 2008, Flynn was honored with a community service award from the Wyoming Tribune Eagle.

Historical career[edit]

Born in Spokane, Washington, Flynn was the oldest of four children of John Edward Smith and the former Ethel Valentine Grammer, who wed in Nebraska in 1928. She later moved to Cheyenne, where she graduated from Cheyenne Central High School, and thereafter from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.[2]

Flynn began her association with Cheyenne Frontier Days in the late 1960s as a volunteer during the time that her husband, Lloyd A. Flynn (1928–2002), a native of Bismarck, North Dakota, was a member of the rodeo general committee. Shirley Flynn was a member and secretary for the founding board of the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum, which opened in 1978 in a temporary cinderblock building. Flynn was the director of the museum from 1987 to 1991, during which time she helped to oversee the expansion of the museum in 1992. In 1980, Flynn researched and played the role of Mary Todd Lincoln in the first docudrama of the Old West Museum. She also lectured at schools, civic groups, clubs, and historical societies. In 1996, Flynn authored Let's Go! Let's Show! Let's Rodeo! The History of Cheyenne Frontier Days which chronicles the history of the event from its inception in 1897. According to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, she is considered an authority on the history of the rodeo and was a consultant for documentaries on the event.[1] She wrote Cheyenne Frontier Days, a work published in 1999 by the Wyoming State Library.[3]

In addition to her works on Cheyenne Frontier Days, Flynn co-authored in 2001 with John Price Cheyenne's Historic Parks: From Untamed Prairie to a City of Trees and in 2002 with Bill Dubois The Plains Hotel. With Dubois, Flynn co-authored centennial histories for the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce and St. Mark's Episcopal Church of Cheyenne, of which Flynn served in the altar guild for forty years.[1][3] She penned articles for The Annals of Wyoming, the magazine of the Wyoming Historical Society,[1] including "Wyoming Portrait: Renesselaer Schuler Van Tassel" (spring 1999)[4] and "Cheyenne's Harry P. Hynds: Blacksmith, Saloon Keeper, Promoter, Philanthropist" (summer 2001).[5]

In September 2008, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle announced that Flynn would receive the newspaper's 11th annual "Community Spirit Award", which is presented to individuals "with outstanding records of service" to the Cheyenne community. L. Michael McCraken, the president and publisher of The Wyoming Tribune Eagle, considered the award to Flynn to be particularly fitting because she had served as a consultant to the newspaper when the award was established in 1998.[1] Flynn was also named to the "Roll of Honor" of the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America. She received the "National Preservation Medal" from the Daughters of the American Revolution.[2]

Death and family[edit]

Flynn died in 2013 at the age of eighty-four in a hospice in Cheyenne. She and her husband Lloyd have three surviving children: Carol Lamoin Flynn Rush (born 1954) and husband, John Benjamin Rush, of Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, Kathryn Elaine "Kay" Hauser (born 1955) of Washington, D.C., and Lloyd Rader Flynn (born 1956) of Riverton; there are five grandchildren.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Flynn pivotal in founding of CFD museum". Wyoming Tribune Eagle. September 21, 2008. Retrieved May 15, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d "Obituary of Shirley Flynn". Wyoming Tribune-Eagle. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Flynn, Shirley E." WorldCat Identities. Online Computer Library Center, Inc. Retrieved May 15, 2009.
  4. ^ "Annals of Wyoming, Summer 1999". University of Wyoming. Archived from the original on February 15, 2009. Retrieved May 13, 2009.
  5. ^ "Western Historical Quarterly". Archived from the original on June 2, 2010. Retrieved May 13, 2009.