ENCINITAS — Earl Vincent Flores, a longtime Encinitas resident known to locals and audiences as Earl the Catholic Cowboy, passed away on Feb. 3 in his home following a lengthy battle with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He was 71 years old.
Flores is survived by his wife Linda and their five children and 13 grandchildren.
A well-known musician, Earl also owned Earl Flores & Sons Masonry which contributed to many projects around Encinitas including the renovation of Moonlight Beach. Earl also recently served as grand marshal of the Encinitas Holiday Parade last December.
Earl was first diagnosed with cancer 15 years ago. After years of fighting the disease with chemotherapy treatments, the disease returned five years ago.
“It was many years of being sick, off and on, a rollercoaster ride,” said Linda, Earl’s wife. “He’d get better, then he’d get sick again. He surprised them all though. He was like a cat with nine lives.”
Earl’s oldest son, Earl Jr., says his father remained positive about his condition up until the very end despite a difficult last few weeks.
“He always was thinking he was going to get better,” Earl Jr. said. “Even as he was laying there that last week he was really thinking he was going to pull through it. But the last few weeks were terrible. He is in a better place.”
Earl and Linda moved to Encinitas originally in 1973, moved away but later returned in the mid-1980s to put down their family roots. The couple eventually opened a bed and breakfast in their home on Requeza Street.
Flores was well known throughout Encinitas, dressed always in his signature Wrangler jeans, cowboy boots and Stetson hat along with his signature handlebar mustache. But more importantly, family members said it was Earl’s endearing charisma that made him famous in town.
“My dad could walk into a room and not really say anything but he had this presence. I don’t know what it was or if we’ll ever get it, but it’s unbelievable what he could do,” Earl Jr. said.
According to his family, Earl’s dream was to be a famous musician. While he didn’t find widespread fame, Earl made himself well known in Encinitas. If Earl was walking around town, people frequently yelled out for him, calling him “Woody” after the character from the movie, “Toy Story.”
“He always was a cowboy at heart,” Earl Jr. said.
Earl was so attached to the look of a cowboy that even when going to the beach with his kids he would wear his wrangler jeans cut into shorts for swimming.
“He’d take them and they would be his trunks when he went swimming with his kids,” said Janice, Earl’s eldest daughter.
No matter what he was doing, Earl was always trying to be the entertainer. And even when his battle with lymphoma was starting to get the best of him, Earl didn’t think of passing up the opportunity of marshaling the city’s Holiday Parade and appearing as joyous and charismatic as ever.
“He looked a little tired but there was no way he’d pass that up,” Linda said. “We were all very happy to be able to see him do that and for him to make it through the holidays with us.”
As a musician, Earl recorded several albums of original music, including “This I Believe”, “Songs From the Heart of a Catholic Cowboy,” “To My Recollection,” “Livin’ My Dream” and others. Earl played music gigs around the county with his son Andy playing drums.
Linda said his musical influences included Marty Robbins and Johnny Cash, influences that show up clearly in his collection of work.
But while Earl was well-known as a musician, mason and devout Catholic, his family will continue to carry his legacy.
“Something we always admired and something we hope to continue is his ability to always bring you back to Earth,” Janice said. “You would get all frazzled and he would just tell you to take a few breaths and assess it for a few minutes. His kids are all strong in that aspect I think.”
Services for Earl Vincent Flores have not yet been scheduled but they are likely to take place at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Encinitas next month.