Longtime Payson Resident Remembered By Friends, Family

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A former Payson man whose legacy includes his patriotism, strong work ethic, loyalty to friends, love of family and stubbornness has died.

Roy Creach, 85, died Oct. 22 in Clinton, Utah. Services will be held at 11 a.m. Oct. 28 at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Payson.

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Roy Creach, pictured with a 1924 hand-cranked forge used in blacksmithing, was a Rim Country resident for more than 30 years.

Creach first moved to Payson in 1969 after retiring from 19 years as a deputy with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department.

"It was a dream to move to Payson," his daughter Charlene (Creach) Hunt said. "He held a part-time job driving a tanker truck for Richfield (Oil Company) and knew there was a (gas) station here for sale."

Working as a deputy, tanker truck driver and farrier, Creach finally mustered the money to purchase the station, located at the corner of Main Street and the Beeline Highway where National Bank now stands.

In a 1983 interview with Charlene Hunt, then a Payson Roundup staff reporter, Creach said he moved to the Rim Country because, "Phoenix was getting too big and I thought my children would do better in a smaller town."

At the time he arrived in Payson, Creach had a son, Albert, daughter, Charlene, and a married daughter, Charlotte, who later died in an automobile accident.

Under Creach's ownership, the station grew to include a full-service mechanic's bay, tow truck service and propane delivery.

Creach once called his business site, "the busiest corner in Payson."

Through the years, Creach developed a reputation as a hard-working, generous man who would go out of his way to help friends, including extending credit to the needy.

"He would give you the shirt off his back, but you'd better ask him for it," retired Department of Public Safety Officer Tim Hughes said of the man he knew for three decades.

Hughes remembers that Creach kept the restrooms in his station locked and would give the key only to his paying customers.

"It was his restroom. He could do what he wanted with it," Hughes said.

One man, a Valley resident, became incensed when Creach refused to give him the key to the restroom because he wasn't a customer.

The man angrily drove away, giving Creach an obscene gesture.

"So, Roy jumped in his tow truck, chased the man down on Beeline in North Payson and began pushing the man's car from behind," Hughes said. "The man went looking for me and took me back to the scene to show me where the skid marks were."

The man wanted to file charges, but Creach fired right back, saying he would counterfile.

Eventually, the Valley man decided not to bring charges against Creach and told Hughes he was going to return to his Phoenix home.

"But I told him that on his way (south) on Beeline he better not drive by the station, because Roy was hot," Hughes said. "So, I drew him a map to get through Payson without going by the station."

Charlene remembers her father for often going the extra mile -- especially in bad weather or over rough roads -- to deliver propane to needy Rim Country residents or plowing snow from their driveways.

Most of the 14 years he owned the station, Creach worked long hours, seven days a week.

Upon selling it in 1983, he said he was looking forward to having time for his family and vacations, but he would miss, "the people I have met and dealt with over the years."

Charlene also recalls him as "a real flag-waving patriot" who admired John Wayne.

"Dad hunted with him and with Ben Johnson," Hunt said. "Dad was a hunter and a horseman."

Creach was also a longtime active member of the Masonic Lodge, a 30-year member of the Gila County Sanitary District board, a World War II veteran and a former member of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Prior to moving to Phoenix, Creach gained fame as a state champion motorcycle rider and stock car driver at Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix.

Longtime Rim residents remember him as a first-rate cowboy cook whose skill and recipes for cooking deep pit barbecue beef and beans has been passed on to Charlene and her husband, Albert.

At the funeral services, the beef and beans dinner will be served to all in memory of Creach.

Creach and his wife moved to Utah from Payson in December 2005.

He is survived by his wife, Susie; daughters, Charlene, Amy Taylor (Scott) of Syracuse, Utah and Latricia Creach of New Mexico; and sons, Albert Creach of Mayer and Jason Creach of Queen Creek.

Donations may be made to the Public Safety Christmas for Kids program. Checks can be mailed to 303 N. Beeline Highway, Payson, AZ 85541.

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