Long time Menlo Park resident Arthur Flegel passes away at age 100 years, seven months

by Linda Hubbard Gulker on March 26, 2018

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Arthur E. Flegel, who brought furniture to downtown Menlo Park with the opening of Flegel’s Home Furnishings on Santa Cruz Avenue in 1954, passed away in his sleep on March 16. The longtime Menlo Park resident was 100 years, seven months old.

There will be a memorial service for Mr. Flegel on May 4, 2018, at Menlo Church, 950 Santa Cruz Avenue, at 2:30 pm.

He is survived by three sons — Robert, Mark and John — and their wives, along with nine grandchildren, 15 great grandchildren and five great-great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, Cleora, just shy of the couple’s 69th wedding anniversary.

Known as a man of strong faith in God and loving family member, his strong work ethic produced many successes throughout his life. We had the privilege of visiting with Mr. Flegel, accompanied by son John, in August of 2017, just shy of his 100th birthday, where we learned about his many and varied interests.

It was with clothing, not furniture, that Mr. Flegel had his first business success. After graduating from Loveland High School [Colorado], he worked at JC Penney full time, and in 1937, at the age of 19, was transferred to Stockton, California, where he moved with his mother and younger sister.

There he assumed management of the shoe department and in 1940 advanced to the men’s clothing department. The following two years he was the second highest salesman in individual dollar sales volume in the entire chain of JC Penney stores.

Mr. Flegel met Cleora, known as Cleo, while in Stockton, and they were married in 1940.

After serving in World War II, Mr. Flegel and Cleo joined his brother-in-law Don’s furniture business in Burlingame. Moving to Menlo Park in 1954, he and Cleo opened Flegel’s Home Furnishing. The store, which is now owned by Mark Flegel and managed by Mark’s son, Brian, remains one of Menlo Park’s largest retail businesses.

Mr. Flegel was as active in the Menlo Park community as he was in business, becoming president of the Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce in 1962 and serving as President of the Menlo Park Rotary Club in 1979. Over the years, he played Santa Claus at community and civic events.

During the 1960s and 1970s, under the auspices of the Menlo Park Presbyterian Church and the World Council of Churches, Mr. Flegel chaired the resettlement committee of the church and assisted more than 200 refugees from China, Korea, Germany, Indonesia, Cuba and Vietnam to resettle on the Peninsula.

He got interested in genealogy in the 1960s. In 1968, he was instrumental in the creation of the organization known as the American Historical Society of Germans From Russia (AHSGR), which principally concerns the emigration of Germans from their homes in Germany to Russia and their subsequent immigration to the United States.

He amassed a substantial library of source materials based on his own research, library studies and extensive travels. In 2014, his personal library was donated to AHSGR and is now preserved as the Arthur and Cleora Flegel Library in Lincoln, Nebraska.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in Mr. Flegel’s memory to the Rotary Club of Menlo Park Foundation or The Arthur E. and Cleora Flegel Living Legacy Fund within the endowment of AHSGR.

Photo by Irene Searles (c) 2017

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Celeste Wiberg March 28, 2018 at 8:15 pm

Thank you, Linda, for such a lovely article and following up with Mr. Flegel’s life until now. May he rest in peace.

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John Mercer March 29, 2018 at 8:19 am

Did Not Know Arthur Personally – We Moved To Menlo In 1953 – I Was Only 6 Years Old – But Flegels Always Seemed To Be A Landmark of Downtown Menlo. The Store Just Seemed To Have A Good Feel About It!!! I “Might” Have Known His Son Mark!
Mark – Keep Menlo Park Strong . . It Seems To Need It!!!

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Linda Hubbard Gulker March 29, 2018 at 9:51 am

Son John was in my Hillview class of ’62 and M-A class of ’66; he’s local attorney so see him from time to time

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Fred Murphy April 8, 2018 at 5:09 pm

Arthur Flegel set the local standard for refinery and high end home furnishing and was a prominent Menlo Park business owner for over half a century. His accomplishments are doubly amazing to anyone who knows what his name means in German. RIP.

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