Edgar Stopher, 1909-2003

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Former Steamboat Springs resident Edgar Stopher died Sept. 22, 2003, in Mesa, Ariz. He was 93.

Edgar was born Sept. 25, 1909, to Mabel and John Stopher in Loveland. He was a nephew of Abner Sprague, a noted pioneer in Larimer County and homesteader in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Edgar was raised in Loveland and graduated from Loveland High School in 1929. He continued his education at the University of Colorado, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1932.

In the early 1940s, Edgar took over the summer operation of Sprague's Lodge from his uncle, and ran a guest ranch in Arizona during the winter. When Sprague's original homestead in Moraine Park became available, Edgar bought Steads Ranch and Hotel and sold his Arizona property. He operated Sprague's Lodge and Steads Ranch concurrently until the government lease for Sprague's ran out in 1957. Edgar continued to operate Steads until 1962, when the federal government bought that property.

During World War II, he served as a major in the Air Force, stationed at Buckley Field.

He served as general manager of the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park. In 1970, he joined the Sheraton Corporation as general manager of the French Lick Springs Hotel in French Lick, Ind. Nine years later, he became the general manager of the Sheraton in Steamboat Springs.

After rising in the ranks at Sheraton, Edgar retired in 1985.

He was active in the Estes Park community as a member of the Chamber of Commerce and as president of the Board of Education for Estes Park schools. He helped found the Estes Park Masonic Lodge. He was instrumental in establishing the Colorado Dude Ranch Association and was active in the Colorado Hotel Association.

After retirement, Edgar, in affection and respect for his uncle, worked with the Rocky Mountain Nature Association in publishing Abner's autobiography, "My Pioneer Life -- the Memoirs of Abner E. Sprague." The book is the legacy of both men and the history of the area.

Edgar was preceded in death by his wife, Elizabeth "Libby" Stopher.

He is survived by three daughters, Karen Stopher Stapleton of Loveland, Lee Stopher and her husband, Doug Mitchell, of Tempe, Ariz., and Dana Stopher and her husband, Dick Griffen, of Steamboat Springs; a son, Robert and his wife, Teresa, of Gainesville, Texas; eight grandchildren; and numerous great-grandchildren.

Cremation has been completed. A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Nov. 7, 2003, at the Estes Park Masonic Lodge. Interment will be at Loveland Burial Park.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Edgar M. Stopher Memorial, Rocky Mountain National Park Association, P.O. Box 3100, Estes Park, CO. 80517.

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