Arch R. Flannery

Arch was born in Owsley County, Kentucky, U.S.A. on 18th August 1891; the son of Thomas and Lucy (née Searcy) Flannery; with brothers William, Edward, Arthur, Charles, John and Elmo, and sisters Lucinda, Bessie and Susan. He attended Battle Creek College and graduated from Western Michigan University where he won letters in 1916 and 1917 – playing for the WMU Broncos. The 1916 team, led by all-time Western gridiron greats Sam Dunlap and Walt Olsen, outscored its opposition 398-38 and topped the country in scoring.

After a one-year tour during WW I, Arch settled down in Battle Creek, Michigan, and became the first full-time physical education teacher for the public schools. Soon, he was supervising the entire district’s programs. For ten years, he worked with schools, industry and ministerial associations to develop one of the most outstanding civic recreation programmes in the state. The programme grew so large that, in 1929, he became its first director. As director he oversaw the development of Bailey, Fell, McCrea and Binder Parks. He also was involved in the revamping of McCamly, Piper and Irving parks.

His successes earned him recognition far beyond Battle Creek and once he was “loaned” to Hawaii for 18 months, where he supervised the construction of tennis courts and baseball diamonds on the island of Maui.

Arch founded a junior baseball program in 1928, and assisted in development of the Michigan Amateur Baseball Association. He brought the American Amateur Baseball Association headquarters and the Stan Musial World Series to Battle Creek. This World Series has been held here since 1937. Arch helped found the Recreation Association of Michigan (now the Michigan Recreation and Parks Association). He served as vice-president and president of this group. He was a former director of the Great Lakes District Advisory Committee of the National Recreation Association.

In 1957, Cecelia Binder and Arch Flannery conspired to improve Battle Creek. Binder donated 618 acres of land to the city, and Arch helped ensure that the land would be used, as Binder intended, for recreational facilities. Development plans included a game reserve, a domestic zoo and an artificial lake. When it came time to find a designer for the Charles Binder Park crown jewel, an 18-hole golf course, Arch was a natural choice. The tireless crusader for public recreation was the city’s first Parks and Recreation Director. His belief in the value of sports was no doubt personal. He was a talented athlete, recruited to play baseball for the Battle Creek Crickets, a Southern Michigan League team.

"Flannery Softball Complex" in Battle Creek was named in his honour.

Arch was inducted into the MRPA Hall of Fame in 2005.

[his portrait is illustrated above; courtesy of the Michigan Recreation and Park Association (MRPA)]