BY SAM SLOM – Last week, I learned of the death of one of my best friends, John Michael Flint. He died in Modesto, California, apparently of a sudden heart attack, at age 67. Many Hawaii old-timers will remember John when he lived among us in the 1960s and’ 70s.
John was a computer-age pioneer. He and his partner owned and operated Hawaiian EAS, Electronic Accounting Systems, in the old Gold Bond Building in Ka’kaako. It was one of the first local companies to use computers extensively in business and was recognized nationally for its innovations.
But John was no geek. Far from it. He was gregarious, witty and fun to be with. He was interested in many things and in style for the ’60s with a big, black beard, but with a twinkle in his eye.
John loved the Oakland Raiders, hated the NY Yankees, and could drink you under the table (Pepsi was an remains my beverage of choice) with only the finest Scotch. He worked hard and partied hard.
He lived in Kaa’awa, and never complained about the long, daily drive into town in his old BMW. He loved Hawaii and took note of the sunsets, rainbows and our abundant natural beauty. He rented on the water. John loved swimming, snorkeling-we used to haunt Shark’s Cove, 3 Tables and Haunama Bay-and other water sports. He was not a surfer.
John was probably one of Hawaii’s first bona fide Libertarians and his beliefs, and ability to speak to them, probably horrified a number of local folks and business types. He made Ayn Rand come alive again. But he had a winning way and made a number of converts. Humor was his weapon of choice.
He was helping me in those days with the old Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) conservative youth organization. Yes, I was young once! We put on a number of community programs, engaged in debates with the Left (he loved that the best), and wrote and published monthly the YAF “KUOKOA” (which stands for Independence and Freedom). John was a great writer up to the end. We also produced “The Green Lantern” a political satire rag named for, you guessed it, our comic book hero of the same name. We didn’t always agree, but boy did we have some great philosophical arguments.
John missed his daughter on the Mainland, and in later years suffered a number of financial and other setbacks here like many others. He never whined, never complained. In the mid-’70s, he moved to Modesto. No one really knows why. Does anyone go to Modesto voluntarily? (Oh, yeah, the wine!) He sold cars, worked at other jobs, but soon became a valued community contributor to The Modesto Bee. His columns and points of view were crisp, titillating and informative.
John, like me, never had too many good words for career politicians, so when I was first elected to the State Senate, after 25 years of saying, “No, not me!” he sent me his condolences.
In his older age, John developed a chronic softer side. He loved his daughter and grandchildren. He spent more time with “progressives.”
John didn’t like to fly and he only returned here twice in the intervening decades. But we kept in touch and I visited him in Modesto a few times. We were planning a get together this September in San Francisco or Modesto.
John Flint will be missed but remembered for his many contributions in California, his native Ohio, and in Hawaii.
Before he left the Islands for good, John entrusted me with a locally hand-made Grandfather clock. It stands to this day in my Hawaii Kai living room and keeps on ticking.
Sam Slom is a professional consulting economist, president and executive director of Smart Business Hawaii’ (SBH), and owner of his own business, SMS Consultants. He is also a Republican State Senator (8th District Oahu), Hawaii Kai to Diamond Head. Reach him via email at mail to: SBH@lava.net