BRUCE MERLIN FLAKE
Bruce Merlin Flake was born January 27, 1907 in Snowflake, Arizona to James Madison and Martha Amelia Smith Flake. Snowflake was still a pioneer town, having been established only thirty years before. Bruce began doing chores and caring for livestock at an early age. He associated closely with his father and grandfather in their work on the ranch. They were great outdoor men. His father lost his eyesight when Bruce was young so Bruce rode by his side during his growing-up years and was his eyes. He learned about livestock, patterns of nature and native grasses from his father. Most of all, he learned the traits of hard work, honesty, and concern for others. When he wasn’t “riding the range,” he hoed weeds in the corn, tromped loose hay on the wagon, and helped irrigate.
Bruce didn’t start school until he was eight years old but caught up by taking two grades in the same year.
Bruce received a mission call on Thanksgiving Day, 1926 to the Mexican Mission to report to Salt Lake City ten days later then arrived in his first assignment in Laredo, Texas on Christmas Eve. At first he didn’t want to learn Spanish and wished he had been called elsewhere. However, becoming accustomed to the faith and the humble attitude of the Mexican people, it wasn’t long until Bruce was very grateful that he had been sent to that mission. This began a lifetime of love for the Mexican and other Spanish-speaking people that culminated in years of service as a temple worker in Mesa, Arizona.
Bruce recorded, “I took me on a partner (Irene) in 1930, 11th day of August. She has helped me very much through the years with her resourcefulness and economic way of getting along. I don’t believe we have never been extravagant or wasteful. We are grateful for our family and for their families, for the love and respect they show us and for their devotion to the family and the Church. Each one has been worthy to go to the temple and each one has filled a good mission.”
Life was busy with lots of hard work, family and Church activities. Bruce served as bishop of the Snowflake Ward during World War II when over 120 from the ward were away from home in the military. He later served for many years on the stake high council. When Snowflake was incorporated, Bruce served as its first mayor. He was a natural and respected leader.
Bruce was a successful rancher with other diversified activities that included buying and selling cattle and owner of a general mercantile store. He and Irene kept their accounts up to date and knew their financial situation. He knew how and when to take a risk. The family was blessed because he was a good provider.
Bruce worked hard but then knew when diversion was needed. He liked to travel taking several trips across the country and always visited his children wherever they were located. He enjoyed basketball games, a carom board tournament, shelling peanuts and telling stories, or going to a movie. Christmas was special. He could be witty and fun.
Above all else, Bruce had as a priority raising a good and righteous family. He placed an emphasis on the family unit. There was no question what was most important to Bruce and Irene. Being self-employed gave Bruce’s children the opportunity to be with their father many hours. There were many lessons taught and that were learned just being with him. Bruce commanded respect. His children had an intense desire to please him. There were high expectations of conduct.
Bruce was unwavering in his loyalty to the Church. He was honest in his dealing with his fellowmen. He was firm, fair and consistent. His actions were always louder than his words.
Bruce passed away in May 1971 at age 64. He left a desire with his children and grandchildren to have had him longer as a part of their lives. However, they have felt his spirit and his influence. Irene helped them to never forget as she continued on alone for 31 years. Someday, he’ll know and enjoy the grandchildren and great-grandchildren that didn’t have the privilege of being with him in this life.