Dean Flake, father of Arizona senator, dies at 85

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Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., speaks to members of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce Tuesday, May 30, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., speaks to members of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce Tuesday, May 30, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
PHOENIX (AP) -

Dean Flake, the father of Sen. Jeff Flake and the former mayor of an Arizona town that his family helped found, has died. He was 85.

The Republican senator announced his father's death with a Twitter post Monday evening.

"The finest man I've ever known passed away today, Dean Flake. My hero, my idol, my father," the senator wrote.

Dean Flake was a former rancher and mayor of Snowflake, a town that his father settled in the 1800s. He and his wife Nerita had 11 children and were active in the Mormon church. Dean Flake served on the Board of Arizona State Parks and was a bishop at his church.

A spokesman for the senator said he was in Snowflake on Tuesday but will be in Washington on Wednesday as the Senate debates the health care bill.

[RELATED: Democrats pressure Flake over health care bill: 'Don't be a Trump chicken']

Flake's vote will be crucial for Republicans if they want to advance the legislation. He has drawn regular demonstrations at his Phoenix office over his voting record in the Trump administration, but his opponents called off a planned Tuesday protest out of respect for the senator following his father's death.

[RELATED: Sen. Flake's Thursday town hall includes 'code of conduct']

Funeral arrangements have not yet been scheduled.

Sen. John McCain said in a statement that Dean Flake dedicated his life to his family.

"A beloved husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather, Dean Flake devoted his life to family, raising his 11 children on a ranch, surrounded by their cousins, and teaching them the importance working hard and being humble," McCain said.

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