Archie Lee Yelek, at the age of 82, passed from this level of life on August 10, 2017 at Haven of Safford to join his parents and four sisters who are celebrating his arrival in Heaven. After many years of dealing with a multitude of chronic health issues but being able to live independently, he is enjoying a renewed, quality of life with no limitations.
Archie was born in Bethune, Colorado before the family moved to Florissant and then Colorado Springs, where he graduated from high school. Being a tall fellow (6'9"), he developed a love for basketball and played on his high school team followed by one year at Colorado College. Without the financial aid available like there is today, he could not afford to continue his college education and went to work for a short time at the Coca Cola plant and then the Mattress Factory for twenty years. He also had his own upholstery business. Later, he moved to Montrose and worked as a warehouse foreman for Russell Stover Candies.
When he wasn't working, he thoroughly enjoyed taking road trips throughout the United States. At home, he played on the community basketball team for many years and enjoyed bowling and golf. He participated in a number of tournaments, winning many trophies.
Due to a heart condition, he moved from Colorado to Safford in 1995 where the altitude was lower and the temperatures higher. It is here that he enjoyed playing a round of golf and easily walking several miles to buy a newspaper, pay bills or get a cup of coffee at Burger King.
Archie is survived by many nieces and nephews along with his long-time friends, Jimmy and Shirley Johnnie in Colorado. Archie, at the age of nine after his father died, began going to the Boys Club in Colorado Springs. It was there that he met Jimmy, who was his coach in sports and a big-brother mentor. Therefore, it seems most appropriate that anyone wishing to make a donation in Archie's memory can do so at the Boys & Girls Club of Gila Valley (805 S. 7th Ave - Safford, AZ 85546 or www.bgcgilvalley.org.)
In Safford, Archie became good friends with Harvey Ray and his wife Lorna. Almost every morning, Archie and Harvey would play a round of golf. However, as they both got older, medical conditions restricted their time on the golf course. But they continued to visit one another every week. One time a few years back, they were in ER at the same time and ended up sharing a room at the Haven of Safford while going through rehab. With identical walkers and matching plaid pajamas from Walmart, they were often seen walking the halls for their daily exercise. It didn't take long before other patients would chuckle as they called out, "There go the Twins!" More recently, they were in the care center at the same time but with more life-threatening issues to deal with, teasing one another about who would go to Heaven first. Harvey won that race, but it didn't take long for Archie to catch up with him three days later. It is easy to imagine them on that "divine-back-nine" just inside the Pearly Gates.
With so many medical issues, especially in the last ten years, Archie was always appreciative of Dr. Wright and his staff, who did their best to genuinely and caringly help Archie have an extended quality of life. Archie will also long be remembered by the very caring medical staff of Legacy Home Health, MGRMC and Haven of Safford as well as the offices of Dr. McMaster and Dr. Huish, who always considered him to be a very good patient.
Even though Archie was the last of his immediate Colorado family to pass, he was surrounded by a community of family in the Safford area. Those at Boulevard Big O Tires made sure his car ran well, the staff at Walmart Pharmacy helped with a lot of heart while Tyson Richins and Juanita Holwerda at Edward Jones were very genuine in their outreach to Archie. And in his neighborhood at Lexington Pines, owner Jo De Cico, office managers Crystal Wriston and CeCe Burnside, always reached out to him with a lot of care. For several years, the neighbors would enjoy seeing Archie as he pushed his walker around the park for his daily exercise, even over to Walmart. He put a lot of miles on that walker before the wheels and frame wore out. As Archie's medical conditions became more challenging over the past five years, a neighbor directly across the street, Bonnie Briscoe, checked on him regularly and helped out with doctor appointments, errands and support.
Being that Archie lost his parents when he was very young and later in life his four sisters, there is no doubt all of them are enjoying a much awaited reunion. And if you hear the swish of a golf club or the sound of a basketball being dunked through the hoop or bowling pins scattered from a strike, you will know Archie is thoroughly enjoying his new life!
At Archie's request, his body is being donated to science and no services will be held.