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Friday, May 6, 2016

Robert Lee Flanigan

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Greencastle native Bob Flanigan, a founding member and original lead singer of the four-part jazz vocal harmony group The Four Freshmen, died Sunday, May 15, 2011 at his home in Las Vegas. He was 84.

Plans for a memorial service are pending.

Robert Lee Flanigan was born Aug. 22, 1926 in Greencastle, the son of Minter and Nellie Flanigan. The bandshell in Greencastle's Robe-Ann Park was named The Bob Flanigan Bandshell in his honor in June 1991.

He is survived by his wife, Mary; a sister, Maxine Thomas, Greencastle; his children, Scott, Jill, and Stephen Flanigan, Julie Maple, Jennifer Turner and Debbie Muria, and 15 grandchildren.

Flanigan died of congestive heart failure at his home with family members nearby and eight local trombonists playing songs, IVI Management agent Dina Roth said.

Upon completing a stint in the military during World War II, where he served in Germany, Flanigan enrolled at Butler University in Indianapolis, where Hal Kratzsch and brothers Don and Ross Barbour had formed a barbershop quartet with Marvin Pruitt.

When Pruitt developed stage fright and decided to quit, it opened the door for the Barbours to reach out to their cousin, Flanigan. After he came aboard in 1948, the quartet changed its name from the Toppers to The Four Freshmen. Flanigan, a tenor, played trombone and bass and sang lead parts.

The group produced more than 50 albums and 70 singles, and had six Grammy nominations over the years. Best-known recordings were "It's a Blue World" in 1952, "Mood Indigo" in 1954, "Day by Day" in 1955 and "Graduation Day" in 1956.

Flanigan's exceptional vocal range allowed him to take the melody above the other three voices, which also opened new vistas in male quartet singing. The Freshmen were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2001.

Flanigan retired in 1992, but he kept a hand in the changing cast of performers and management of The Four Freshmen name.