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A Life Lived Close to the Land
June 11, 1921 - June 29, 2013
Regardless of what his birth certificate says Chuck Lakin was an Arizona native, although technically his birthplace is Fort Scott, Kansas.
In 1921, when Chuck was just 6 months old, his parents, Lloyd and Ethel Lakin, packed up their family and headed west. His father and a business partner, George Peter, bought a ranch in Kingman and the Cross U Ranch northwest of Prescott. This is where Chuck learned to love good horses and the ranching life. They also bought some land west of Phoenix near the Gila River for duck hunting. This land would later become the main farm and ranch of the Lakin Cattle Company.
Chuck attended Emerson Elementary School, Phoenix Union High School, New Mexico Military Institute and the College of Agriculture at the University of Arizona. In 1943, just a few units short of graduation, he enlisted into the Army (63 years later he earned his diploma!). With his love of horses, it was only natural that he wound up as a platoon leader and instructor in the Cavalry.
Chuck's military outfit was sent to Burma as part of the Mars Task Force to finish-up where Merrill's Marauders had left off. This opened up the Burma Road so supplies could be hauled into Kunming, China. While he was there, he organized possibly the first rodeo in China. During his service, Chuck was wounded in action and was awarded the Purple Heart and Presidential Unit Citation for his service.
Following his discharge in 1945 he worked for the Lakin Cattle Company. His job was managing the cattle operation at the Cross U Ranch near Prescott as well as the Phoenix feedlot. He also started raising and training Quarter Horses.
Committed to the horse industry, he served on many associations' boards and committees. He was past president of the Arizona Quarter Horse Breeders Association and a life member and honorary vice president of the American Quarter Horse Association. He was recently inducted into the Arizona Quarter Horse Association Hall of Fame.
In the 1960's, Chuck began pioneering a pelletized feed for cattle. As part of this process he was faced with the challenge of designing and building the pellet mill. Chuck discovered, by accident, that the pellets made an excellent horse feed. Today the horse feed is sold in several states as well as overseas. For over 50 years the family corporation has and will continue to operate the Lakin Milling Company, a highly successful feed business.
Chuck was a life member and past president of the Maricopa County Sherriff's Posse; founder and past president of the Estrella Rotary Club; a director of the Arizona Horsemen's Association; past president of University of Arizona Agriculture "100" Council; member of Arizona Farm Bureau Federation; Board Member of Arizona National Livestock Show; Arizona Agribusiness Council; past chairman of Arizona Cattle Feeders Association.
In addition to being known for his integrity as a businessman, Chuck was also known for his sense of humor. He wrote and recited cowboy poetry and was a great storyteller. He loved to share the accounts of the adventures and misadventures of his life. He was a much admired and respected man.
Chuck passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his family. He is survived by Maxine, his loving wife of 67 years, his 4 daughters, Linda McCann (Jim), Charlene Bergland (Eric), Sally Lindsay (Don), Patty Carroll (Larry), 10 grandchildren, 10 great grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
A memorial service to celebrate Chuck's life will be held in Phoenix in the fall. Arrangements will be handled by Post Scripts by Posey.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Arizona Farm and Ranch Experience: Heritage Center at Lakin Farm, 289 North Litchfield Road, Goodyear, AZ, 85338 (heritageatlakinfarm.org.). Or to "The Maxine H. and Charles A. Lakin Endowment Fund" at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of Arizona. Make checks out to the University of Arizona Foundation with the words " Lakin Endowment" written on the memo line. Mail to: Jim Davis, Development and Alumni, PO Box 210036, Tucson, AZ 85721
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Published in The Arizona Republic on July 14, 2013