Gary Dean Stroup 1944 – 2018
Gary Dean Stroup was born on September 9th, 1944 in Sterling, Colorado to Darrel and Clestine (McWilliams) Stroup. He was the second child of six.
Living south of Holyoke in his childhood, Gary developed a love for ranching and farming as he worked alongside his dad, and as the oldest boy he shouldered a lot of responsibility doing daily chores. It was a sad day for Gary in 1958 when the family left the farm and moved into Eckley, but he was happy that he could take along his beloved horse, Pride. As a young budding carpenter, he was always creating things out of wood, including a cart so his pet goats could take kids for rides in the neighborhood and be in the Old Settler’s parade.
One of his treasured memories of his mother was hearing her sing her favorite songs, which fostered a love of music in him at an early age. At 18 he saw someone in Holyoke play the guitar and sing country music which sparked his passion for the guitar.
After graduation from Yuma Union High School in 1962, Gary worked for Safeway in Sterling and Wray until he was drafted into the U.S. Army from 1965-67, spending 13 months in Korea. Returning to Eckley after the Army, he continued nurturing his passion in music, working at Virgil Reed Music in Wray, and forming a country western dance band with his two brothers and good friend, Bob Korf, called the “El’ Gee Jays.” The practiced on the front porch of his parent’s house for the neighbors to enjoy.
He met his wife, Sondra, at Reed Music when she came in to buy a Lowrey organ, having played the piano her entire life. They had a cherished and shared love of music and married on January 3rd, 1970 in Atlantic, Iowa. They became Amway Direct Distributors, briefly living in Castle Rock, Colorado, and returned to Eckley in 1973. He then started Stroup Construction, which he pursued for the majority of his career.
Gary and Sondra were blessed with two children, Levi Darrel (1975) and Laura Clestine (1979), and one grandchild, Sage Regina (1995). They were his pride and joy. In 1981 he moved his family to the home he built for them on 80 acres west of Eckley, fulfilling a lifelong dream. He loved the Colorado sandhills and would not have considered living anywhere else.
After suffering a heart attack in 2000, his love of the guitar and his skilled carpentry led him to establish Stroup Guitars, making hand carved archtop guitars. He completed nearly 240 handmade guitars and sold them all over the world, making friends in all walks of life.
Gary had a penchant for long stories, naughty jokes, a big appetite, and
sharing a lot of laughs over a cocktail with his loved ones. He will long be remembered for his deep voice, strong relationships with family – and friends who became family. He was a devoted husband, loving father and adored his dogs and cats.
Gary passed away at home after an extended illness on October 5th, 2018. He was preceded in death by his parents, Darrel and Clestine. He is survived by his wife, Sondra (Nelson) Stroup, his son Levi, daughter Laura (Jon) Bunning, and granddaughter Sage Stroup. He is also survived by his siblings, Mary Lee (Harold) Kues, Linda Stroup, Janet (Dennis) Cook, Jon (Denice) Stroup, Leon (Lynell) Stroup, and many cousins, nieces and nephews.
There will be a private family service.