Everywhere you look in Craig, there’s a piece of Galord Flies.
His hard work and dedication to the city shines bright in the flowers that are planted along Yampa Street and Victory Way and is evident in the years of commitment he made to the Kiwanis and local Veterans of Foreign Wars.
About 100 community members celebrated his birthday and his good works Sunday at Loudy-Simpson Park, where a barbecue was held to help him ring in his 90th birthday. His birthday is Tuesday.
“He’s just a grand old fellow,” said Marilyn Stevens, who attended the celebration.
His smile lit up the event, and his spirit was as young and giving as the day he moved to Craig in 1949.
“The day I rolled into Craig, Colo., there was 4 feet of snow on the ground, and it was 40 below,” Flies said. “I thought, ‘What in the hell am I doing in this God forsaken place?’”
Yet, he grew to love the city.
He originally moved to Craig to work for the local Hested dime store chain. He kept himself busy outside of work with community activities, including sponsoring a girls bowling team.
That’s when he met his soon-to-be wife, Lornie.
“She happened to be on the team. One thing led to another, and she hit me with a bowling ball one night,” he said. The rest is history.
The couple was married May 19, 1951. They moved to Denver briefly before returning to Craig.
Upon returning to Craig, Flies became the sole administrator for the city of Craig, handling the jobs of clerk, recorder and treasurer — a position he held for 21 years.
After he retired, he started mowing lawns for the community and remained active in local clubs and organizations.
He and his wife had four children, three boys and a girl. Lornie Flies died three years ago.
All three of his sons were at his birthday celebration, and they reflected on what it was like having such a well-liked father.
“For me, personally, it’s a lot of the memories from our childhood. We didn’t have a lot, but we didn’t need a lot,” Kenny Flies said. “Dad always made sure we had a lot of things to do recreationally, like camping and fishing and hunting. He’s just always there when you need him.”
That was the underlying message of almost everyone at his birthday celebration: Galord Flies always lends a helping hand.
“When we moved here in 1955, he was the first person in Craig to welcome us, and he invited us to dinner,” Peggy Cisar said. “He could make a wonderful fire out of sage brush to cook a steak.”
His cooking was part of everything he did. He was the head cook for Kiwanis, preparing meals for the community with a sense of pride and love.
“He is Mr. Kiwanis,” Linda Herschberg said. “He used to be the main cook, keeping everyone fed and happy.”
He’s been a member of Kiwanis for 60 years.
“I met Galord when I started the beautification committee, and we laid sod on our hands and knees,” said Gail Severson, who helped organize the birthday celebration. “He did all the landscape at the Chamber.”
The way he has touched the hearts of so many in the community buzzed throughout the party.
“Galord has been kind of like my dad,” Severson said. “He’s kind of like my second dad. He’s just a great human being.”
Flies and Severson helped create the flower potting that is along Yampa Avenue and Victory Way, she said.
“We planted all the trees and put in all the flowers,” Severson said.
The respect that the community and that Kiwanis have for him is “second to none,” Severson added.
Flies served in the Navy in World War II, repairing aviation on an island in Guam.
Prior to his stint in the Navy he helped build aircrafts in a factory. He’s always enjoyed hunting — a reason he loves living in Craig. He’s a humble man, but recognizes his good works.
“In later years you go, ‘Oh, I helped with that.’ It’s nice,” he said.
Noelle Leavitt Riley can be reached at 970-875-1790 or nriley@CraigDailyPress.com.