Remembering Jay Flater, the soil man

Jay Flater uses a bulldozer to move a fallen limb off his Red-E-Rent parking area at 630 S. 31st St. in 2006.
Westside Pioneer photo
       Jay C. Flater, who grew up on the Westside and was a businessman here for more than half a century, passed away Feb. 11.
       A luncheon gathering in his memory will be Saturday, Feb. 20 at noon at the Carriage Stop, 2700 Robinson St.
       Mr. Flater, 79, was born April 7, 1930, in Colorado Springs to Thomas and Clara (Johnson) Flater.
       In a 2006 interview with the Westside Pioneer, Mr. Flater recalled attending Buena Vista and Whittier elementaries, then West Junior High before going to Colorado Springs High School (now called Palmer) until 1946. He left before graduating. “I got too smart to go to school,” he said in the interview. “It was probably my biggest mistake.”
       So he went to work. “I got a Model-T truck and worked different jobs,” he said. “I've always had a truck for hauling.”
       He served in the US Army, receiving a discharge in 1953.

Flater, on the same day in 2006.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Mr. Flater said that in 1956 he and his father started a business at 630 S. 31st St., called Red-E-Soil, for which they developed different types of nutrient-rich soils and sold them to contractors and the general public. They rented the 2.1-acre property (near the site of the old Colorado-Philadelphia gold mill) for a few years, eventually becoming owners. In the 2006 interview, Mr. Flater also explained how the business name came to be. “We had a bookkeeper who told us, 'We've got to call it something.' We decided that it was ready to use, so why not call it Red-E-Soil?”
       His father died in 1972, and Flater ran the business by himself after that. He admitted it wasn't easy. “I've had stuff for 35 or 40 years that I haven't used yet,” he said during the 2006 interview.
       About five years ago, chiefly because of environmental wetland regulations on the mountain peat bogs that he and his father had once relied on for soil-making, Mr. Flater discontinued that business and began using his property to store RVs and other vehicles. He called it “Red-E-Rent.” But he was not happy about the regulations, commenting in 2006, “They're protecting us to death. Anything that makes sense doesn't work anymore.”
       According to a family obituary, “Jay was an extremely hard worker throughout his entire life and devoted his spare time to his family.”
       Mr. Flater is survived by his daughter, Denise Ealey of Colorado Springs; brother Jerry Flater and sister Roberta Sanders; and grandchildren, Justin and Jaycee Flater. He was also preceded in death by his mother.

In a photo outside a family house in St. Vrain Street's 2500 block (probably in the 1950s), Jay (right) and his brother Jerry flank their father Thomas.
courtesy of Jay Flater

Westside Pioneer article/obituary