Sen. Jake Flake, who has represented Payson and the Rim Country in the Arizona legislature for years, died at his home near Taylor on Sunday.
Area leaders say that with his death they have lost a good friend and supporter in the legislature.
Gila Country District One Supervisor Tommie Cline Martin said she first met Flake when she was just 10.
"I was corralling cattle with two other girls for Bud Jones and Jake was the buyer. He asked where the cowboys were and Bud said he could run 10,000 head of cattle across the state with the three of us," Martin said.
"I just dearly loved Jake Flake. He was as solid a friend of rural Arizona as you could have. He firmly believed less government was the best government and that people working out problems at the local level was the best solution."
Martin said Flake stood firm on his rural values and principles.
"He was every rural county's best champion and supporter. We're going to miss him and those values," she said.
Martin said he was a leader in the legislature and the legislature is seriously lacking in leadership.
"He was a steadying influence and gave good advice to everyone who went to him. He was a good and faithful civic servant."
Mayor Kenny Evans said he has known Flake since the late 1960s.
"He was rock solid. He didn't pull any punches. Some didn't like his brutally honest approach to politics, but for me it was very refreshing," Evans said.
"He was a great guy and we're going to miss him. He was the best and brightest hope to everyone in rural Arizona."
Former Mayor Barbara Brewer worked with Flake for many years during her tenure on the council.
"He was very supportive in our efforts to acquire Blue Ridge (water) and he helped with funding the college when we were trying to get our own here in Payson.
"He helped us acquire the airport land from the Forest Service and get 25 more acres of state lease land for aviation-related industrial development at the airport," Brewer said.
She said they stayed in regular contact and at one point he encouraged her to make a run for the state legislature.
"I appreciated his confidence," Brewer said.
She said he helped push through the expansion of Highway 87 to four lanes and was always good at lobbying the Arizona Department of Transportation on behalf of the Rim Country.
Scott Flake, the former director of the Payson Regional Economic Development Corporation and now a representative for Edward Jones, is one of Flake's many family members. He said his father and Flake were first cousins.
He grew up just a half-mile from the senator's home in the White Mountains and, as a child, frequently visited to play with all the cousins gathered there.
"He was always a good guy. Always friendly. It was fun to go to his house. I'm proud to say I'm related. Wherever I go in the state, people knew and liked him. He did a lot for rural Arizona and is greatly respected.
He is survived by his wife, Mary Louise; 12 of his 13 children; more than 45 grandchildren; and a newborn great-grandchild.
Sen. Jake Flake's family will have a memorial service in Phoenix as well as a funeral in Snowflake.
The memorial is at 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, June 11 at the LDS Phoenix East Stake Center, 1835 E. Missouri.
The funeral is at 11 a.m., Friday, June 13 at the Snowflake Main Street Chapel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Visitation is from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday, June 12 at the Main Street Chapel. Additional visitation begins at 9 a.m. Friday.