MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Vince Flynn will be remembered around the world as the man who wrote enthralling political thrillers that millions of people couldn’t put down.

But to me, and many others, he was a great friend, and just a regular guy from St. Paul.

Related: Minnesota Author Vince Flynn Dies At 47

He grew up in a large family in Highland Park.

“I was very lucky to grow up in that Irish-Catholic tradition of everybody’s equal,” he told me.

He stayed in Minnesota for college and a career, but at 27 he gave up a high-paying corporate job to become a bartender and pursue a passion.

It took him three years to write his first book, and publishers rejected it 60 times.

In 2007, he told me why he kept trying.

“I never realized through all of this…how competitive I am,” he told me then. “I just thought that this was how every kid grew up, you know, with four brothers and two sisters who were all athletes, all pounding the heck out of each other, never liking to lose. And that is what really saw me through the hardest part of this.”

After the success of his first novel “Term Limits”, Vince’s writing career took off.

I met Vince’s future wife in 1997, called him immediately, and told him to drop everything to come to meet her.

They were married 13 years and raised three wonderful children.

In 2010, Vince learned he had prostate cancer.

“This is not your garden variety prostate cancer,” he said. “This is the aggressive kind that takes guys down.”

He changed what he ate and tried everything he could to fight back against the aggressive disease.

His determination bought him three more years with his family.

“If I didn’t have the strong faith that my parents gave to me and the schools that I went to and these coaches that were on us to always be striving to get better and to play with class and to never quit, I think there was a darn good chance…I would have just folded,” he said.

Vince didn’t fold. His spirit was strong until the end, but the cancer was just too much for his body to take.

Vince’s story is even more remarkable considering he had dyslexia.

Several years ago, he became very open talking about it in hopes of encouraging young kids with learning disabilities to overcome obstacles and strive for success.

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