Gov. William S. Flynn, (1885-1966) was a member of the Rhode Island State Senate from 1912 – 1914 and again from 1917 – 1922. He was Governor of Rhode Island from 1923 to 1925, and brother of Chief Justice Edmund Flynn and Coach John A. “Jack” Flynn.
Flynn, a native of South Providence and the the son of a Fifth Precint Providence cop, was determined to succeed. He earned money for his education by working as a ticket agent at the Providence steamboat company. Educated at the College of Holy Cross and Georgetown Law School, Flynn entered Rhode Island politics as a Democratic state representative from South Providence. As a legislator, he sponsored the Townsend-Flynn Act, which guaranteed Kosher food to Jewish inmates in state prisons, the first such law in the United States. He became floor leader of the House, before being elected governor in 1923. In 1924, while Flynn was governor, the Ku Klux Klan held an illegal meeting at the state owned The Old Arsenal, the Providence Marine Corps of Artillery building, 176 Benefit St. Later, Flynn denounced the KKK and forbade the group from meeting on state property. Flynn was the Democratic Party nominee for the U.S. Senate in 1924, but lost to his Republican Jesse H. Metcalf.
Flynn later led the advisory board for the Public Works Administration from 1933 to 1934 and served as division director for Providence Civilian Defense during World War II. He was a member of the American Bar, the Knights of Columbus, the Elks, and the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick.