Cortez lost one of its greatest community assets with the Feb. 12 passing of Bill Stroud. The driving force behind the conception and construction of its superb golf course in the early 1960s and late 1970s, few men in the history of this grand old town did more to enhance the quality of life for its citizens.
A savvy businessman, Bill also once employed dozens of area residents at Environmental Liners, a company that fabricated and installed high-tech pond liners that protected ground waters across the nation. His foremost legacy, however, will be the golf course, a top-notch recreational facility that has helped Cortez grow and take its place as an attractive forward-looking city.
I've always believed the golf course should be named after Bill. When I wrote the history of the course a number of years ago (a copy is available in the Cortez Library or in the files of the Cortez Journal), it became clear that no one contributed nearly as much time or energy to get both nines built as Bill. Amazingly, the man had zero background in building courses, but his final product is nuanced and more than holds its own with big-city courses with multi-million-dollar construction budgets.
Bill was a Colorado native (Rocky Ford) and a "can do" guy who never did anything halfway. I remember after the new pro shop was built at the course he was unhappy that the parking lot hadn't been paved. Most of us were just pleased to have the new facility, but he said the graveled lot seriously detracted from the experience of out-of-town golfers driving in for a round. In retrospect, of course, he was right. When the lot was finally paved, it was a signal to out-of-towners that this golf course was a serious enterprise that could deliver a first-rate round of golf.
Bill and his late wife Laura were good friends of mine, and I'll miss their smiling faces when I again return to Cortez this summer for the Firecracker and Pinto Bean golf tournaments. Thankfully, their son Stuart will be there, and we'll have a fitting memorial service for Bill during the Pinto Bean tournament the third weekend in August.
Meanwhile, I wonder if consideration could be given to renaming the golf course Bill Stroud Memorial. It was, after all, his baby, his gift.
The Villages, Fla.