PEORIA, Ariz. — Robert L. Fletcher, founder and owner of Cobre Tire Co., died Dec. 6 at age 100.
A native of Phoenix, decorated World War II veteran and serial entrepreneur, Mr. Fletcher in 1970 founded Cobre Tire, a commercial tire dealership and retreading concern focused on the mining and construction industries.
Mr. Fletcher sold the business's commercial assets, which had grown to 33 outlets and several retreading plants, in 1997 to Bridgestone Firestone Inc.
Along the way, he set up Fletcher Racing Team, in part to help promote Cobre Tire. The racing team was active in Indy Car racing from 1973-1982, running cars at the Indianapolis 500 and other venues for racers such as Bobby Unser, Pancho Carter, Art Pollard and Lee Kunzman, among others.
He also became a co-owner of Phoenix International Raceway, helping foster many improvements to the facility.
During WWII, Mr. Fletcher service in Africa and Italy the Army Air Corps 41st Depot Repair Squadron. For his service, he earned the EAME medal and two bronze stars, among other decorations.
Cobre Tire was just one of Mr. Fletcher's business endeavors. He was first and foremost a farmer, starting in 1938 at age 18 with a 320-acre plot of virgin desert near Phoenix where he grew vegetables and cotton before converting to citrus.
He added livestock to his holdings 1968 with the purchase of a cattle ranch near Clifton, Ariz. He would swap that in 2015 for the 51 Ranch north of Carefree, Ariz., where he made extensive improvements to better the cattle operation as well as enhance wildlife sustainability
He was the first to dead level a field to conserve water, and in 1966 he received the Soil Conservation Award for his efforts. Mr. Fletcher was instrumental in the founding of the C.A.P. to bring Colorado river water to Central Arizona.
He also was a real estate broker and general contractor and co-founder and president of AMIGOS, the organization of Arizona business leaders dedicated to keeping Arizona's mining industry thriving. He received the AMIGOS founders award in 1999.
In 2007, Mr. Fletcher was presented the Wildlife Habitat Award from the Game & Fish Department and was inducted into the Arizona Farm and Ranch Hall of Fame in 2013.
He also created an endowment that established the Fletcher Library at Arizona State University West and was active in the Methodist Church.
He is survived by his wife, Karen; children Connie Harrington (Rick), Les Fletcher (Jeannie) and Jerry Fletcher (Lisa); 10 grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren. His first wife, Geraldine, died in 1978.
In lieu of flowers, memorials in honor of Robert L. Fletcher may be sent to Arizona Agricultural Education/FFA Foundation, P.O. Box 5310 Glendale, Ariz.