IRENE STRATTON FLAKE
1907 - 2002
Irene Stratton Flake was born March 18, 1907 in Snowflake, Arizona to William Ellis and Minnie Kartchner Stratton. Her parents, as young people, along with her grandparents had arrived in Snowflake nearly thirty years earlier in fulfillment of mission calls to resettle there.
Irene always recalled the happy memories of home and the Stratton family. She appreciated how kind and gentle her parents were with their children and grandchildren. She remembered her father saying, “Anything worth doing is worth doing well,” and her mother, “If you are dressing up to go somewhere, dress to look your best.”
Irene did well in school. She did not a miss a day of school in her twelve years in Snowflake Schools. The Church academy changed to a state school, giving her the distinction of being the valedictorian of the first graduating class of Snowflake Union High School. She learned to play the piano, enjoyed speech, drama and dances.
She had a great desire to go to college. She worked part-time while she completed the two-year teacher course in Flagstaff then taught elementary school for several years.
When Bruce Flake returned from his mission, there began an interest in each other and Bruce became a frequent visitor at the Stratton home. Bruce and Irene were married in the Salt Lake Temple on August 11, 1930. They traveled to Salt Lake, with chaperones, in the Model-T Ford that Irene purchased while teaching school.
Life was busy for the young couple with Irene teaching school the first year and Bruce establishing himself in ranching. They were united in their efforts. Home and family was the center of everything. Bruce and Irene had eight children. There was Rolf, Nena, then twin daughters, Leona and Lavona. Irene often recalled how busy she was with four children under the age of five. Rey was next. Layne Kent, the sixth child only lived ten days leaving a sadness that couldn’t be totally erased. Garry and Keith completed the family.
Irene taught by example expecting her children to always do their best. The family worked hard with daily chores, a ranch and a farm, a general mercantile store besides school and Church activities. There was also time for music, reading and self-improvement. There was time for Christmas, Thanksgiving, family reunions and Dutch- oven suppers, roller-skating and basketball, and other activities.
Irene was pleased that her seven children filled missions, graduated from college, and married in the temple. But, that wasn’t sufficient since they were often reminded they could do better and that she was trying to set the example.
Irene served in many ward and stake positions. She started selling LDS books as a service to ward members in the 1940’s, operating her bookstore over sixty years. She was frugal and had good business sense.
The crowning Church service for Irene was to serve as an ordinance worker in the Mesa Arizona Temple, in English and in Spanish. She served for over 30 years!
In 1971, at the age of 64, her husband Bruce passed away. She could have become bitter but went right on as Bruce had urged her to do. She simply bowed to the will of her Father in Heaven and for 31 years she stood at the head of her family. She encouraged family unity and urged them to live the gospel. There were lonesome days and challenges but she met them. She made hundreds of friends with her captivating smile and genuine interest in others. She attended dozens of wedding receptions and funerals. She wrote letters of encouragement and poems to honor friends and family. She enjoyed expressing herself in poetry. She wrote family histories and compiled family lists for the extended Flake and Stratton families. She prepared extensive books of remembrance for herself, Bruce and for each of her children. She organized family letters and special thoughts into numerous binders. She kept a detailed journal. She read the scriptures, prayed regularly, and enjoyed beautiful music. She spent hours playing the piano and the organ.
Her activity was complicated with macular degeneration that made her legally blind for more than fifteen years. She had other ailments and her “jumpy leg” ailment worsened. Life became more stressful but through it all Irene did not lose perspective. She did not lose her sense of humor. She was frugal and self-reliant. Her mind was alert and her memory bright until the end.
Irene was unique in so many ways. She expected a lot of herself and accomplished it through hard work. She loved and urged her children and grandchildren to strive for excellence. She was a bright shining example.
Irene wrote, shortly after Bruce’s death and over 30 years before her own passing,
“As surely as I live, beyond a doubt I know
Sometime to an eternal home with my dear one I’ll go.
I’ll face the future patiently and work and wait
For the day that I’ll be with my sweetheart, my eternal mate.”
Irene went to that eternal home and to Bruce when she passed away on June 15, 2002. If her children and grandchildren do as she has taught them, it will allow the Lord in His due time to call each forward to hear, “Well done, though good and faithful servant.” Then, each can join her and other grandparents KEEPING THE CHAIN UNBROKEN with happiness forever.