Funeral Director First Responder Inspires Daughter To Pursue Career In Medicine Despite the health risks, Dan Flynn left California to New York with a national mortuary response team last month. His daughter tells him how he inspired her to go into medicine.

Funeral Director First Responder: 'You're Stronger Than You Feel'

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript



Time now for StoryCorps. Today, a first responder you don't often hear about - Dan Flynn is a funeral director in Santa Barbara, Calif. When the pandemic hit, he made his way to New York City to be part of the national mortuary response team. He recorded a remote conversation with his daughter, Shannon, using StoryCorps Connect.

SHANNON DOTY: When you got called to New York, were you scared?

DAN FLYNN: Any responder will tell you that it's part of our makeup that when everybody is running away from the danger, we run towards it. It's just part of the fiber of my being, I guess, to go to where there's this kind of a need.

DOTY: All you ever see is the stuff on the news. And you calling me up and telling me you're going to New York, I was terrified. Knowing your personality made that 10 times worse because I knew if somebody dropped on the street having symptoms, you would be the first person to pick them up and run them to the hospital despite the fact that you can catch COVID also. But I was also proud because you are that person. How did New Yorkers respond to you guys being there?

FLYNN: On our first day, people pulled their cars over and got out of their cars and they started applauding. People on bicycles and people on the sidewalk would shout thank you. And as long as I live, I'll never forget this sight. As we were walking right in the middle of an intersection, a disabled veteran stood up out of his wheelchair, and he saluted as we walked by. It was incredibly moving. And that sight will never leave me.

DOTY: It's your attitude toward helping people that made me want to work with patients with brain tumors. And I would rather run into the fire with my cancer patients instead of just taking the easy way. And that is your doing because you always were there to tell me don't do it the easy way. Do it the right way.

FLYNN: I think of you as this warrior and living up to your middle name Valerie for valor. I hope you remember that you are smarter than you think, and you're stronger than you feel.

DOTY: I'm very proud to be your daughter.

FLYNN: I will always love you, darling.


MARTIN: That was Dan Flynn talking to his daughter, Shannon Doty. They recorded their conversation with StoryCorps Connect, a new platform which makes it possible to interview a loved one remotely and then upload it to the StoryCorps archive at the Library of Congress. To find out how to record your own StoryCorps Connect interview, go to


Copyright © 2020 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.