William E. Stroud

Longtime Cortez resident William E. Stroud died Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, at his home. He had turned 86 two weeks earlier.

Known as “Bill,” he was born to Hugh and Beatrice Stroud on Jan. 25, 1927, in Pueblo. He grew up in Rocky Ford. His father left when Mr. Stroud was 7, and Mr. Stroud’s Uncle Leonard Stroud took him under his wing. Leonard Stroud was a world champion trick and fancy rider. When Mr. Stroud turned 16 and got his driver’s license, he drove his uncle and Western movie star Tom Mix around, listening to Old West stories while the men competed on the summer rodeo circuit. Mr. Stroud would later spend hundreds of hours collecting photos to help improve his uncle’s exhibit at the Rodeo Hall of Fame.

After serving in the Merchant Marines, he went to Western State College in Gunnison and played basketball for the Mountaineers.

After graduation in 1949, he moved to Cortez as head basketball coach, also assisting in football and baseball. During his first year, he met Laura Maye Wheeler, and they were married Aug. 21, 1950, in Cortez.

In 1955, the Strouds moved to California, where Mr. Stroud was the head basketball coach at Porterville Junior College.

They returned to Cortez in 1958 and opened the Cork ’n’ Bottle liquor store. In 1960, Mr. Stroud began working to build a golf course in Cortez, which is chronicled in History of the Cortez Golf Course by Paul Glaviano. After completion of the front nine holes, he helped rehabilitate Stoner Ski Area.

In 1971, when Mr. Stroud sold the liquor store and became the golf professional at Cortez Municipal Golf Course, he worked on completing the back-nine holes. He taught many people how to play the game. He started the junior golf program and organized the first junior golf tournaments. He helped organize the first All-Indian golf tournament.

Mr. Stroud always found time to play city league basketball, playing until he was 56.

After seeing a need for flexible membrane liners to prevent polluting leakage from ponds, Mr. Stroud founded Environmental Liners Inc., in 1982. For several decades, it was an important source of employment in Cortez, with crews traveling throughout the United States for installations. He turned the operation of the business over to his son in 1987 and continued to serve on the board of directors until 1999.

In January 2012, Mr. Stroud received the Cortez Citizen of the Year award for his many contributions to the community.

Mr. Stroud was preceded in death by his wife of 59 years, Laura Stroud, in 2010.

He is survived by his son, Stuart Stroud; and two grandsons.

A celebration of life will take place during the Pinto Bean Golf Classic in August. Details will be announced at a later date.