Sept. 6, 1910 — April 15, 2010
One of the most loved and respected Sedona residents died Thursday, April 15, but the legacy Carl Fliessbach leaves behind will keep him alive in the minds of Sedona residents forever.
Carl Fliessbach died at age 99.
Fliessbach made a huge footprint on Sedona since he arrived in the early 1980s with his wife, Kate Fliessbach, after retiring from International Harvester Co. in Chicago. Kate Fliessbach died March 6, 2003.
Fliessbach may have retired from his job with Harvester, but he hit the ground running once he arrived in Sedona. He immediately started getting the Orchards No. 2 Property Owners’ Association organized and incorporated, and served as its first president in 1982. From there he helped build a tower of successful causes, movements and community activities.
Perhaps one of his top accomplishments was promoting the incorporation of Sedona as a city. The move was successful in 1988.
Another success Fliessbach was involved with was the formation of the Sedona-Oak Creek School District. Fliessbach, along with Serge and Katherine Wright, Lee Antonsen and George Moore lobbied state legislators for a district. The referendum was placed on the ballot in
1991 and the city voted the district in.
Fliessbach served on the district’s board of governors and as the board president from 1994 to 1995. During that time he worked to help establish and build Sedona Red Rock High School, which opened in 1994.
Fliessbach organized and hosted tours of the school to show people what was going on in the classrooms and how the school operated.
He not only came up with ideas, Fliessbach did the work, according to the SOCSD’s first superintendent, Nancy Alexander. She first met Fliessbach when he and four other school board members went to Colorado to interview her for the job.
“He always had a great sense of humor and really cared greatly for the community of Sedona, especially the schoolchildren. He was a kind, good-hearted man,” Alexander said. “I think he’s a role model for everyone. He proved that you’re never too old to make a difference.”
Alexander said Fliessbach remained active with the school district until his late 1990s.
“He always thought young. We all have a lot to give, and Carl gave it his all,” she said.
Alexander said Fliessbach put a committee together and took them out to dinner for his 95th birthday to talk about his celebration of life after he died.
“Ninety-nine and ½ years — that’s a good, long life,” Alexander said.
“Carl will always remain my inspiration on how to be of service to others for a lifetime. His commitment to our youth, intelligence and kindness of spirit will not be forgotten,” SOCSD Board President Bobbie Surber said.
Among all of Fliessbach’s accomplishments some of the best loved took place in a kindergarten classroom at Big Park Community School. It started with a project in Patty Nelson’s class. The children had to earn money to send a gift to a senior citizen. That senior citizen was Carl Fliessbach. He returned their kindness with a thank you letter and visited the classroom.
In 2003, Nelson’s classroom adopted Fliessbach as their very own senior citizen and had a birthday party for him every year. Fliessbach was born
Sept. 6, 1910. Nelson kept a scrapbook with photographs, artwork and letters.
“Each child had to bring a handmade card for him, so they thought about who he was and what he meant to them,” Nelson said.
Many of the cards thanked Fliessbach and talked about what they liked about him.
“Because of you I like reading. — Your reader, Sierra;” “Thank you for helping me read in first grade. If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t be a great reader, Sophia;” and “I remember reading with you. It was lots of fun, Mason.” Others wrote “I can’t believe you’re 98! Not many people live that long. Although for right now enjoy being young, Mason;” “Just like the awesome guy you are, you always have a smile, Jessica;” and “You are the
nicest person in the world, Colby.”
Fliessbach kept returning to the classroom and sometimes brought others along. He read to the students every Friday.
“Carl was wonderful. The kids just loved him. He was always in the moment,” Nelson said.
Fliessbach also spent a lot of time at Sedona Red Rock High School.
Maureen Barton, the school’s journalism teacher, said Fliessbach was an icon that connected the schools with the community.
“Never will there be a better model of pure pride when it came to the youth in our community. Carl was a fabulous cheerleader — always on the sidelines with his joyful smile pushing us to do well and screaming loudly whenever we did,” Barton said.
The list of Fliessbach’s accomplishments is a long one. So long in fact that in 1999 he was named Citizen of the Year” by the Sedona Red Rock News. His energy stretched from the city to the people to the animals. Everything was worthy of Fliessbach’s attention.
Fliessbach volunteered and served on the board of the Humane Society of Sedona. He also took all of the photographs for the Paw Prints page in the Sedona Red Rock News.
“Carl will be surely missed in the Sedona community. He has been instrumental in helping to form our own school district and doing everything humanly possible in helping children. He was one of those remarkable people you rarely find who truly cared about others rather than self,” Larson Newspapers Publisher Robert B. Larson said.
Fliessbach served as president and on the board of Keep Sedona Beautiful, was a committee member of Sedona Focused Quality of Life, a board member of the Sedona Academy, served on the first Sedona Board of Adjustments, was a board member of Friends of the Forest and was active with the Citizens for an Alternate Route.
Fliessbach has been described as warm and loving, dedicated and an all-around good guy who goes about helping others without fanfare. His dedication and wisdom make Fliessbach a role model not only for the younger generation, but for every generation.
“He was a happy man. Anybody who didn’t know Carl missed out on someone special. How awesome for my students and me to have been a part of his life,” Nelson said.
A celebration of life for Fliessbach will be at Oakcreek Country Club, 690 Bell Rock Blvd., in the Village of Oak Creek Saturday, May 1, from 4 to 6 p.m.
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