The following are excerpts from John Corcoran’s eulogy to his friend John Flagg.
John was born August 20, 1948, the first child of Reginald and Joyce Flagg of Grand Mannan Island, New Brunswick.
On June 27, 1968, John joined the Ontario Provincial Police and was posted to St. Catharine’s Detachment. During his tenure there he was trained and subsequently became a motorcycle patrol officer. Although John was tasked with a variety of assignments his true affection lay with traffic enforcement on his OPP Harley Davidson motorcycle.
In 1971 he met his future wife Joan, later becoming a family and the proud parents of three wonderful daughters Michelle, Roxanne and Brenda. Their family has since grown to include daughter and son in-laws Paul, Debert and Cindy as well as grandchildren Brenden, Justin, Amy and Kelly.
John remained at St. Catherine’s Detachment until January 1985, where he earned the reputation as a tireless worker and a proud member of the OPP. In 1985 John was transferred to the Kingston South Frontenac Detachment, where he assumed the duties of a general law enforcement officer.
In April 1996, John was assigned to the Quinte RIDE Unit, returning him to his true passion, traffic enforcement with the opportunity to once again resume his duties as a motorcycle officer.
Senior Constable John Paul Flagg # 3979 performed his duties in an exemplary manner throughout his career up to and including his final day of service and life on September 20th, 2003.
These are the facts about John’s life. But this tells us little of the man and an extraordinary life lived.
I first met John in September 1986, when as a Probationary Constable I was posted to Kingston where John was assigned as my coach officer. As I reflect on John’s life, there are certain characteristics and events that left a lasting impression on me and countless others.
I would like to mention these in the form of 4 C’s: character, compassion, community and courage. The first and most important was John’s character. When the name John Flagg is spoken in many different circles, the response always is “what a gentleman”. Regardless of who you are or what you did, if you encountered John in any fashion you were treated with dignity and respect.
The second is John’s compassion. In our profession, we often occupy a front row seat to life’s tragedies and constant displays of man’s inhumanity to man. Despite policing in five separate decades, he never succumbed to cynicism or distrust. There are so many instances where John displayed his enormous compassion. I don’t dare to guess how many wakes and funerals John attended on his own time to comfort and encourage the families of victims; or the lives of children he touched when he placed them on his Harley with his golden helmet perched upon their little heads.
John’s sense of community is another area I would like to touch on. John regarded the OPP as a valuable and important institution in the communities in which he lived and served. More than that he wanted to ensure he would be as fine a member of the OPP as he could possibly be. To even the most casual of observers one could tell when dealing with John that he loved his work and excelled at it.
Of all of the things I have said so far, they are simply a prelude to the characteristic my fellow officers and I admire the most about John. And that was his courage… his courage to never compromise his ethics and beliefs, his courage to protect the weak and vulnerable and his courage to believe his contributions did make a difference.
John’s life ended tragically. He was assigned to what should have been a routine day of public safety and traffic control. When his radio crackled out the details of a stolen jeep, John did not hesitate to respond to assist his brother and sister officers in an effort to protect the public. Without hesitation John straddled his beloved Harley and with his leather glistening and the sun beaming off his golden helmet he entered the fray.
John always showed tremendous courage, but he is my hero not for how he died but for how he lived. The circumstances surrounding John’s death leave all of us angry and confused. But these are not the emotions that John would want us to leave with. Regardless of the badge you carry or the duties you are assigned, I believe to truly honour John we must learn from how he lived rather then how he died. John can and will live on through us if we are willing to remember and emulate his character, compassion, sense of community and courage.
Finally, there is John…. a loving husband, a caring father, a doting grandfather and a terrific friend.
God speed, my friend.