Rocky Kemp Yorke

Rocky Kemp Yorke


Rocky Kemp Yorke died of cancer on the morning of November 5, 2023. He was 83 years old.

Rocky was born in Los Angeles on December 17, 1939, to Juanita and Kemp Yorke. From the very beginning he was, to quote his mother, “a handful.” Exuberant, impish, and so high-energy he often had to be held back with a leash, Rocky delighted in playing the cowboy, raising havoc, and being the well-muscled big brother to Roger, Dawnel, and Duane. He made friends everywhere he went, excelled in football, and continued his hijinks throughout his teenage and young adult years. Always full of energy, he was known for knocking over porta-potties (once with someone inside), jumping on his mom’s perfectly-made bed at the start of every visit, and riding motorcycles with Steve McQueen. 

In 1961 he fell in love and married June Casson, the girl across the street. Rocky and June had three children together—James, Christy, and David—but theirs was a rocky (no pun intended) union which ended in divorce. In 1973, Rocky got his second chance at love when he married Patricia Young and became a second father to her three children—Lori, Darryl, and Teresa. Shortly after, Rocky and Pat moved to Arizona to join his father, Kemp, in the family business. The blended families enjoyed summer vacations together, including camping, water skiing and white water rafting. In the evenings, Rocky could often be found playing his guitar and singing songs like “Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night,” and “Puff the Magic Dragon”.  His love for nature and music was passed on to his children.

Rocky knew how to have fun, but he also knew the value of hard work. He pumped gas as a teenager, attended Los Angeles Valley College and Arizona State University, and had a successful career in heavy equipment sales. From working with his father at Kemp Yorke Equipment Company to heading his own successful sales business, Rocky was the consummate businessman, yet the road wasn’t always a smooth one. Rocky faced shady characters, business closures, and the challenge of starting over multiple times in his career, but few people knew that. To the world, he was always the jokester. No matter what was going on in his own life, he wasn’t satisfied until he made you laugh.

Rocky was lucky enough to travel all over the United States and Canada for work, and he and Pat vacationed in many exotic locales, including Hawaii, Alaska, Europe, and Japan. After their stint in Arizona, Rocky and Pat lived in California, Colorado, Idaho, and finally Edmond, Oklahoma. Rocky liked to say he lived in all the biomes—desert, beach, mountains, and plains. What he was really able to do was enjoy a well-lived life. Whether it was skiing in the Alps, hiking in the mountains or staying home to be with his beloved dog, Buddy, Rocky enjoyed sharing his adventures with his children and grandchildren.  Rocky believed in service and giving back to the community, most recently he enjoyed serving at Crossings Community Church as a Greeter, making people smile, talking to the children, and celebrating our Lord each Sunday.  Rocky was the epitome of a man who was happy no matter where he was. 

Rocky’s life, like everyone’s, was far from perfect. He laughed a lot, but he cried a lot too.  He had many joys, but also many regrets.  Near the end of his life, Rocky said that he didn’t need a bucket list, because he’d already done everything, he set out to do and was ready to be with the Lord. One of his last posts on social media was “THERE IS always, always, always, SOMETHING TO BE GRATEFUL FOR” ~Rhonda Byrne.  And grateful Rocky was for his wife, his family, his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He loved them all and was proud of every one of them. Rocky found profound peace in his faith and died surrounded by his wife, Pat, and daughters Lori and Teri. He was loved by family and friends both near and far.

Rocky is survived by his wife of 50 years, Patricia, daughters Lori Lakey, Christy (Rob) Cohen, and Teri (Chris) Weldon, sons James (Oscar) York, Darryl Young, and David Yorke, and siblings Roger (Jeanne) Yorke, Dawnel Yorke-Lowery, and Duane (Marty) Yorke, as well as nine grandchildren–Audrey, Shane, Amanda, Rylie, Claire, Connor, Dean, Trent and Tyler and seven great-grandchildren with an eighth on the way.

A memorial service will be held at 1:00 p.m., Friday, December 1, 2023 at Matthews Funeral Home Chapel.

5 thoughts on “Rocky Kemp Yorke”

  1. My Uncle Rocky was the biggest jokester I’ve ever grew up with . I am blessed with his humor. In my eyes he never aged . I myself will never grow up and act as a teenager thx to him. Have a blast in heaven young man.

  2. Rocky, my neighbor, was the very first friend I made when I moved to Oklahoma four years ago. He always had a smile and an amazing story of his youth to share with me. We spent many days standing in the yard just laughing and exchanging stories of our lives. I will truly miss those days, and I will greatly miss my dear friend. The world was a much better place when Rocky was here.

  3. Dawnel Yorke-Lowery

    I am the Sister of My Wonderful Rocky. Our family was Rocky, Roger, Me Dawnel and Duane
    We were raised my Wonderful Parents.
    When My Dad died Rocky took over giving me advice and helping me thru my life.
    I will miss him the rest of my life until we are reunited again in Heaven

  4. Carol ODonnell

    I served along with Rocky at the Crossing the past year plus since I moved here. He knew how to make people feel seen, appreciated and welcomed. He had a charism you wish you could bottle up. No wondet he was in sales. He had a heart of gold. He will surely be missed. He inspired myself to be better at appreciating those around me. Thank you for being you.

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