Joseph was born in Carbondale, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. on 2nd December 1927; the son of James Aloysius and Clare Martina (née Reap) Flannery; with brothers Thomas, James and Matthew, and sister Clare. He graduated from Jessup High School in 1945, and received a degree in History and English from the University of Scranton in 1949.
He got his first taste of journalism as an office boy with the United Press in New York. After college he returned to New York and worked as an office boy with the New York Times.
He was hired by the Scrantonian Tribune in 1950 and he worked there for the next 10 years. While there, he won a journalism award from the Strike It Rich television show for a series of stories he wrote about the Little Sisters of the Poor and their home for the elderly. The sisters had been praying to a statue of St. Joseph to prevent their heating boilers from shutting down. Joseph's series of columns raised $30,000, which enabled the home to install new boilers as well as their first television sets.
In 1960 he moved to the Scranton Times and began covering the courthouse and writing political stories such as the election of William W. Scranton as governor of Pennsylvania. Later he traveled the country covering the unsuccessful Republican presidential campaign of Mr. Scranton.
On 27th August 1967 he began writing a weekly column. Over the years that number rose to four columns a week, in addition to a separate political column.
He also found time to write to write and sell stories to various newspapers and national magazines. Four of his essays appeared on the op-ed page of the New York Times. Others appeared in such magazines as Good Housekeeping, Time, Life, Catholic Digest, and Family Weekly.
He extended his career to teaching journalism at the University of Scranton for 18 years. While he has won many honours in his career, the one he prizes the most is an honorary doctorate awarded to him by the University of Scranton in 1995.
In the words of Monsignor Joseph G. Quinn, Rector of St. Peter's Cathedral in Scranton:-
"For more than 50 years, Joseph X. Flannery has told ever so uniquely the stories of the ordinary and extraordinary people of the Lackawanna Valley.
The legendary scribe is a wordsmith par excellence. He has always managed to go behind the headlines to find the human side of the story, and somehow to often spark both laughter and tears in the very same sentence.
It has been said that history is written one life at a time. The history of our community is very much to be found in the writings of Joe Flannery as he captured the stories of the famous and the infamous, the rich and the poor, the successful and the striving. His columns have inspired us and challenged us. Through them, we have grown. And for them, we can only remain eternally grateful."
When he retired on 1st December 2002, Joseph estimated he had written over 4,000 columns.
Joseph married Betty Loftus in 1950, and the couple have six children.
Joseph died on 30th March 2010, and was buried in Saint Catherine's Cemetery, Moscow, Pennsylvania.
[his portrait is illustrated above, courtesy of "The best of Joseph X. Flannery", University of Scranton Press, 2004; signed first edition donated to the Flannery Clan by Maureen Wlodarczyk]