Archived Story

Pair provide life lesson in death [UPDATED]

Published 4:23am Monday, June 24, 2013 Updated 6:26am Monday, June 24, 2013

It was quite the morning on Thursday, reading that the personifications of both Tony Soprano and Mitch Rapp are gone.

On Thursday, 47-year-old author Vince Flynn, a St. Paul native who wrote a series of books featuring counterterrorism agent Rapp, and James Gandolfini, the 51-year-old actor who masterfully played the role of Tony Soprano in “The Sopranos,” had both died.

For years, I have enjoyed both Flynn’s books and the HBO television show — which was far superior to 95 percent of the movies out there. I realize that

“The Sopranos” and Flynn’s novels will forever be available to read and watch. And it isn’t as if, other than listening to Flynn on a couple radio talk shows, I had known them personally.

Maybe it was the fact that the pair were only four and eight years older than myself, and had accomplished so much in their lives. Both had to make their way through the system, getting small breaks along the way before becoming famous.

Flynn was a sales and marketing specialist at Kraft Foods before deciding he wanted to become an author.

He quit his real job, worked as a bartender at night, wrote the book “Term Limits,” and was turned down by umpteen book companies before getting his book basically self-published and then his career took off.

Gandolfini, the son of a school lunch cook, spent much of his early acting career bartending, eventually getting some movie roles before being cast as Soprano. I recall his quote at one time of “I’m just a fat (guy) who got a break.”

Clearly, both these guys were able to get breaks. They certainly accomplished more than I have in their lifetimes. Or maybe they didn’t, and they just happened to engage in something that you might be able to get famous for doing, and they did. Of course, I think I’ll take being healthy (knock on wood) and having a lot more life to live than being famous and not here anymore.

Maybe the deaths of these two guys woke me up to the fact that all of us can go at any time. Sure, that’s cliché. But it’s still true.


• • •


So my family has picked up on a new trend – paddleboarding.

It’s sort of like surfing on a lake, only rather than have a wave give you a push, you do the pushing yourself, with a paddle.

It requires balance, because it’s definitely easy to fall off. It also requires canoe paddling skills, which I have dusted off from my boundary waters days in high school.

It’s a great workout, and great fun, and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone. It’s also family friendly (note the picture of my daughter and her friend on it here.)


Joel Myhre is The Journal’s publisher. Email him at

Editor's Picks

NDSU tragedy strikes area teammates

The effects of the death of 18-year-old North Dakota State University student Thomas Bearson has caused not only sadness for the family and members of ... Read more

Rep. Collin Peterson talks attack ads, goals

Seventh district congressional representative Collin Peterson shared his thoughts on attack ads and why voters should re-elect him to an office he has been in ... Read more

Battle Lake Schools gets top education honor [UPDATED]

The Battle Lake school district was honored Tuesday with one of the highest national awards for public schools. Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Education announced ... Read more