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Kevin Flynn, 46, businessman, former Sun-Times investor, killed in bicycle accident

KevFlynn during recess hearing for Emerald/Empress Casino license July 20 2005.  |  Sun-Times files

Kevin Flynn during a recess in the hearing for the Emerald/Empress Casino license on July 20, 2005. | Sun-Times files

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Updated: September 15, 2013 6:23AM

Kevin Flynn, a Chicago businessman and former investor in the Chicago Sun-Times, died Monday after he was struck and killed by a car as he rode a bicycle near his vacation home in southeast Michigan, his family said Tuesday.

The accident happened around 4 p.m. in Chikaming Township near Harbert, Mich. He was struck from behind during a sudden, heavy rainstorm, his wife Susan said.

Earlier that day he had played a round of golf with his son and a friend. “It was probably a perfect day for him until the end,” his wife said.

Mr. Flynn, 46, had four children. He was chairman of Emerald Ventures, Inc., a Chicago investment firm, and was on the board of LKQ Corporation, an auto recycling business founded by his father that now has a market value of $6.2 billion.

Friends described him as a driven businessman devoted to his family and generous to charities.

“He put his children and his family first in his heart always,” his wife said. “He was 27 years sober, yet he partied with some very active and lively drinkers. He was fun to hang out with and always on the go, full of life.”

Mr. Flynn first gained notoriety when he and his late father, Donald, tried to bring a casino to Rosemont in 2001. But Mr. Flynn’s gaming license was revoked amid charges he misled the Illinois Gaming Board and that some of his investors had alleged mob ties.

In 2009, he joined a group assembled by the late Mesirow Financial chairman and CEO James Tyree that bought the Sun-Times out of bankruptcy.

That stake was sold in 2011, reportedly at a profit.

“It’s an important investment in Chicago, an important investment in jobs,” Mr. Flynn told Michael Miner of the Chicago Reader at the time. “It’s important to keep a world-class city like Chicago having two major papers.”

Mr. Flynn graduated from Marquette University with a degree in business and worked with his father, who was a Waste Management executive and a major investor in Blockbuster Video, Discovery Zone and various casinos.

In the early 1990s, Mr. Flynn ran a company that operated 11 Blockbuster stores. He was also senior vice president of development at Discovery Zone. In 1996, Mr. Flynn founded the Blue Chip riverboat casino in Michigan City, Ind., and he negotiated its sale to Boyd Gaming Corporation in 1999. He was also CEO of Renovo Services, an auto repossession company sold in 2012.

“Kevin was a very intense and driven businessman,” said family friend Peter Thompson. “He loved to compete, and was constantly reading trade publications and books. Despite that, he was incredibly committed to his family,” Thompson said.

Mr. Flynn and his wife have donated more than $1 million to the Chicago Children’s Museum and in 2012 he was among a group of four donors who matched $1.8 million in contributions to the Evans Scholars Foundation, an organization that sends golf caddies to college. A Lincoln Park resident, he was a strong supporter of St. Clement Church and St. Ignatius College Prep.

Besides his wife, Mr. Flynn is survived by two sons, Donny and Brendan; two daughters, Shannon and Katie; a brother, Brian; and his mother, Beverly. Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday at St. Clement Church, 642 West Deming Place. A funeral mass will take place at 10 a.m. Friday at St. Clement. Burial will be private.

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