A Turtle’s Tribute:
Chet Flake, LGBT volunteer who led Turtle Creek Chorale early on, dies at 87
By DAVID FLICK firstname.lastname@example.org
Published: 07 August 2014 11:23 PM
Chet Flake, a leader of the Turtle Creek Chorale in its fledgling days and a volunteer recognized for his longtime service to the gay and lesbian community, died Wednesday at his home on Turtle Creek Boulevard.
Flake, 87, died of complications from lung cancer.
When Flake joined the governing board of the chorale in the 1980s, the all-male chorus was not the high-profile Dallas institution it would later become.
“They came to concerts wearing jeans or khakis or faded polo shirts, or whatever they had been wearing earlier that day,” he said in an interview shortly before his death.
When at a concert at Southern Methodist University in the early 1980s, the group for the first time mounted the risers wearing their signature tuxedos, “I felt that this was finally their time.”
He served on the chorale board for 12 seasons, including three as chairman.
Flake and his husband, Bud Knight, were well-known figures in the Dallas LGBT community, particularly for their work volunteering with AIDS-related service organizations. In 2011, Flake and Knight, who had died the previous year, were awarded the Black Tie Dinner’s Kuchling Humanitarian Award.
Cece Cox, CEO of the Resource Center, which offers a variety of services — including AIDS counseling — to the LGBT community, said that Flake was a good-humored and calming presence at the center’s facilities, where he often worked the front desk. There he greeted people who felt frightened and stigmatized by the thought of HIV infection.
“It’s important that people feel welcome and not judged when they come in our doors,” Cox said. “Chet was very skillful at that.”
Flake was born April 2, 1927, in Iola, Kan., but soon after moved with his family to Colorado Springs. He served on active duty for two years in the U.S. Army and in the reserves for another six.
He spent much of his career as an educator but also served as the proprietor of three Dallas restaurants — the best known being Chester’s in North Dallas.
Flake met Knight in 1965, and they became life partners for the next 45 years. They married in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 2005.
In addition to his civic work, Knight was a prominent member of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, where he served on the vestry, as senior warden and as trustee of the church endowment fund. He also served as an Episcopal lay chaplain at St. Paul Hospital.
Flake is survived by two sisters, Ivah Grace Biddle of La Habra, Calif., and Ella Belle Watts of Colorado Springs; and eight nieces and nephews.
Services will be at 10 a.m. Aug. 16 at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 6525 Inwood Road, Dallas. Donations may be made to the St. Thomas Episcopal Church Endowment Fund, the Turtle Creek Chorale or the Resource Center of Dallas.