On the gorgeous spring morning of April 23, 2013, Lt. Col. Cecil Ray "Rocky" Flint was relieved of his mortal assignment here on Earth and joined his beloved wife, Helen, for their next tour of duty. During his nearly 98 years of life he set an example of integrity and hard work softened with love, fun, laughter, and the joy of life. He was a loving and devoted husband, a wonderful father, a fun loving grandfather and a steadfast friend.
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Rocky was born in Willapa, Wash., on June 28, 1915. He was the youngest child of Cecil Clyde Flint and Nancy Wiseman Flint. His siblings included a brother, Earl, and two sisters, Muriel and Marguerite. Sadly, his mother passed away when he was just three years old, and this put a horrible strain on the young family. His father, a railroad engineer, was on the road much of the time and ended up splitting the children up, placing them with friends or foster families. Rocky moved from family to family until Mamie Bachman, who was caring for his two sisters, finally took him in. She and his father would later marry. This brought stability to his young life. His stepmother ran a boarding house in Winlock, Wash., so Rocky learned the meaning of hard work, but there was time for fun, too. He fondly related stories of riding a horse named Old Bill to school, rounding up the cows with Shep, the dog, picking blackberries with his sisters and snitching sauerkraut from the crock in the root cellar.
Rocky excelled in school and loved learning. He was a natural athlete and in high school participated on the football, basketball, track and wrestling teams. He was a good leader and was elected president of his senior class. He also enjoyed school dances and the drama club.
His greatest dream was to go to college, and he worked many jobs to earn money for school. After high school he packed his bags, and with $100 in savings, left for Washington State College. There he earned a bachelor's degree in engineering. When World War II broke out he joined the Army Air Corps and began a career in the military that would last nearly thirty years and include three wars. While in the service he earned a master's degree in engineering at Purdue University.
In 1944, while he was stationed in Arkansas, he met the love of his life and married Helen Ruth Ladyman. They enjoyed a long and happy life together living in many interesting places: Texas, California, Indiana, Tennessee, Virginia, and Oregon. They have a son, James David Isbell, living in DeKalb, Texas, and a daughter, Jan Parent, in River Heights, Utah.
Rocky had many interesting assignments while in the service. In Tennessee, at Arnold Engineering Development Center, he was in charge of building and running the world's largest wind tunnel. At Edwards Air Force Base in California, he was in charge of the Rocket Propulsion Lab. In Hawthorne, Calif., he was in charge of propulsion work at the Space and Missile Systems Organization.
When Rocky retired as a Lt. Col. from the Air Force he went to work for TRW in Washington, D.C., managing their contracts with the military for several years before retiring completely. He and Helen then moved to Medford, Ore., and truly loved the beauty of the Rogue Valley area. Rocky was a champion golfer and a very active member of the Rouge Valley Country Club. He proudly belonged to the "Hole in One Club" and shot his age many times between the ages of 73 and 91. He was delighted when his grandson, Ian, showed an interest in the game. He spent many joyful hours on the course with him teaching him the finer points of the game. He loved fishing in the lakes and streams of Oregon as well as the Teton and Yellowstone area of Wyoming. He owned a boat for many years that he kept at the Pacific coast, and with Helen by his side, loved to go salmon fishing in the ocean. He and Helen also liked to garden. She grew beautiful flowers and he grew delicious tomatoes. He always loved to tell the story of the tomatoes he grew in his backyard in Tennessee that got so tall he had to pick them with a stepladder.
In 2008 Rocky and Helen moved to River Heights, Utah, to live with their daughter, Jan, and her family. He loved being close to family and keeping track of his five grandchildren and six great grandchildren. He enjoyed warm evenings on the deck sitting with Max, the dog, and trying to out-whistle Sam, the cockatiel. There was nothing better than topping that off with a nice juicy hamburger with a thick slice of tomato and onion. A close second would be dinner at Angie's and a cup of the "best coffee in town".
Rocky was preceded in death by his parents and all his siblings who also enjoyed long lives, his wife Helen and their infant son, Donald. He is survived by his step son, James David Isbell and his wife Jean; his daughter, Jan Parent and her husband, Mike; grandchildren: Robin, Ian, Jimmy, Jeff, Shana; and great-grandchildren: Morgan, Connor, James, Cameron, Kathleen and Landon; as well as many nieces and nephews.
Rocky and his family would like to thank the staff at Terrace Grove Assisted Living Center for their kind and loving care during his stay there. Thanks also to his friends in the dinner group: Mel, Roy, and Lyman. He was very fond of you all. We are very appreciative of the care provided by the Logan Regional Hospital staff, IHC Hospice and Dr. Faux and his staff.
Published in Logan Herald Journal from Apr. 27 to Apr. 28, 2013