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1931 Rolf Flake 2024

Rolf Flake

September 16, 1931 — May 4, 2024

Gilbert, Arizona

Rolf Merlin Flake passed away peacefully on May 4, 2024, in Gilbert, Arizona surrounded by family. Rolf was born to Bruce Merlin Flake and Irene Stratton Flake in Snowflake, Arizona on September 16, 1931. Except for his service as a missionary in Mexico and a brief stint working on Church owned livestock properties in Georgia and Florida, Rolf spent his entire life in his beloved state of Arizona. On June 29, 1954, Rolf married the love of his life, Glenna Jean Theabold in the Mesa, Arizona temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. During Rolf and Jean’s early married years they lived in Snowflake and a few other locations before moving to Gilbert in 1965. They raised their six children in Gilbert and have been fixtures in the community during its growth from a sleepy agricultural town to the thriving Phoenix suburb that it is today. 

Rolf has held a variety of jobs during his long career, mostly centered around the farming and ranching industries. His longest tenured positions were as an appraiser for the Federal Land Bank (15 years) and as a private appraiser with West-States Appraisal Company (14 years). He spent the last 25 years of his career doing what he loved most, which was managing a family ranch on the east edge of the Phoenix metro area. He loved working with his brothers, sons, and grandsons in the ranching business. Nothing pleased him more than checking on the cows or witnessing a good soaking rain.

Rolf is a lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and held many positions of leadership and service during his 92 years of life. He demonstrated his faith every day by the way he lived and the way he treated others. Rolf never met an enemy, and any time he saw someone in a cowboy hat he figured it had to be someone he knew . . . and most of the time it was. Many of those who knew him best list integrity as his strongest asset. 

Rolf is known and loved by many as a cowboy poet and author. Rolf wrote most of the poems in his Cloud Watchers poetry book during the late 80’s and early 90’s and became a regular attendee at cowboy poetry gatherings around the American West. He loved entertaining his audience with what he called “punch line poetry” and seldom turned down an invitation to perform whether paid or not. His Looking Back series, which includes three volumes of stories about his life which he called “slices of life,” was written in the last couple of years when Rolf’s health would no longer allow him to drive to the ranch every day. 

Rolf is survived by his wife of nearly 70 years, Jean, and five children, LaDawn (Jim) Pyles, Kent (Lori) Flake, Reed (Amy) Flake, Kirk (Lori) Flake, and Kristen (Carl) Bloomfield. Rolf is preceded in death by his daughter Loretta (Pat) Kanavel, and his brother Layne Kent Flake who died in infancy. He is also survived by six siblings, Nena (Arnold) Foster, Lavona Richardson, Leona (Lyn) Kimball, Rey (Margaret) Flake, Garry (Janet) Flake, and Keith (Jodi) Flake. Rolf’s posterity includes 27 grandchildren, 61 great grandchildren, and 2 great great grandchildren.   

Services for Rolf will include a Visitation on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Bunker’s Garden Chapel at 33 N. Centennial Way, Mesa, AZ. Funeral services will be May 15, 2024, at 11:00 a.m. at the Gilbert Stake Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at 777 East Elliot Road, Gilbert, AZ.  Burial will be in the Snowflake Cemetery on May 16, 2024, preceded by a brief grave-side service at 11:00 a.m.     

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