William J. Flynn (Photo: Mutual of America) William J. Flynn (Photo: Mutual of America)

William Flynn, 91, the chairman emeritus of Mutual of America, died Saturday, according to Mutual of America Life Insurance Company.

Flynn, a native of New York, is best known in the life insurance industry as the leader of Mutual of America.

He joined the New York-based life insurer as its president in 1971. He became the company’s chief executive officer in 1972 and its chairman in 1982. He gave up the president and CEO titles from 1994 through 2005, then continued to serve as  the company’s chairman. Since 2005, he has been the company’s chairman emeritus.

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Mutual of America credits Flynn with helping to make Mutual of America a leader in the U.S. retirement services market.

Flynn was chairman of the Life Insurance Council of New York (LICONY). He has been on the board of many health and insurance groups, including the MIB Group and the College of Insurance.

In 1994, LICONY honored Flynn as being the most outstanding life insurance company of the past 25 years, according to the University of St. Thomas in Houston, which named its Irish studies center after Flynn.

After-Hours Activities

Outside of the insurance industry, Flynn was known for his efforts to help bring peace to Northern Ireland.

He was Northern Island project director at the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, a group that tries to resolve conflicts that threaten the interests of the United States.

Flynn helped persuade former President Bill Clinton to grant a U.S. visa for Gerry Adams, the president of Ireland’s Sinn Féin political organization, so that Adams could attend a conference in 1994, according to Irish America Magazine, which named Flynn to its 2011 Hall of Fame.

Flynn later led two delegations to Northern Ireland to promote investments in the region, according to Irish America.

The National Committee on American Foreign Policy says Flynn helped spur two ceasefires in Northern Ireland. The committee renamed its Initiative for Peace Award after Flynn in 2001.

Flynn was born in New York in 1926. He served in the Air Force, in Texas and in Washington, D.C., during the Korean conflict era.

He earned a master’s degree in economics from Fordham University.

He started out working in risk management at the retirement and long-term care insurance operations at Equitable Life Assurance Society of America, according to Irish America. When he left Equitable to join Mutual of America, he was senior vice president of pension operations.

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