Steve Lenix Stroud passed away on December 3, 2021. Born in Weatherford, OK on May 24, 1930, to J.W. Stroud and Fern Stroud (Ward), Steve grew up south of Weatherford where he developed a lifelong love of the outdoors while riding horses and helping his dad and brother to care for the family's land, crops, and animals. He later attended Weatherford High School, where he excelled in football and wrestling before obtaining a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Southwestern Oklahoma State University.
Steve trained as a pilot before becoming a high school teacher and coach of basketball, swimming, wrestling, and football in Hennessey, OK, where one of his proudest achievements was taking the football team all the way to the state championship in 1955.
He then transitioned into the insurance industry, which would quickly become one of his greatest passions. He first worked for the Fireman's Fund, but when faced with the prospect of moving his then young family off to far away Chicago, he took a major leap of faith and decided instead to open his own agency in his hometown of Weatherford. He sold for a number of companies, including Hartford, and began to specialize in lines of insurance important to the rural people he knew best, especially after purchasing Austin, TX-based San Jacinto Insurance Company in the early 1970s and incorporating it into his agency.
After it became possible to begin directly selling multi-peril crop insurance in the early 1980s, Steve dove in headfirst, and his agency eventually became the third largest producer in the nation. Having long enjoyed vacationing in Ruidoso, New Mexico, Steve decided to move his agency there in the 1990s, and as a testament to the commitment of his employees, almost all of his Weatherford-based staff made the transition with him. Steve rapidly adjusted to life in the mountains and continued full steam ahead with his business efforts, with even the Governor of his new state recognizing him for his accomplishments as a businessman and his contributions to the community. In later years, he transitioned more heavily into the selling of farm and ranch insurance. All told, what began as a small agency in Weatherford now employs a total of 14 people and leads a network of roughly 700 independent agents in 18 states. While Steve began entrusting the operation of the agency to his son, Steve Brian, in recent years, he maintained a strong connection to the agency, insisting on "going to work" and being in the office as much as possible.
In addition to his achievements in the worlds of coaching and insurance, Steve refereed football games and oversaw the planning and construction of homes. True to his roots, he ran wheat harvesting crews that worked their way from south Texas all the way north to Canada and owned ranches in Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Saskatchewan. He also exported cattle to Japan and held a seat on the Chicago Board of Trade.
Steve enjoyed playing golf, travelling, and spending time with family. He also loved to be in the air, logging well over 6,000 hours as a pilot in command and particularly relishing his time behind the controls of his beloved Meridian prop jet. Later in life, he enjoyed splitting his time between Ruidoso, New Mexico and a vacation home in San Carlos, Mexico. A man of faith, he felt particularly welcome at the First Christian Church of Ruidoso, where he financed an expansion of the church in the early 2000s.
Steve was preceded in death by his parents; his older brother LTC J.R. Stroud, US Army retired; and his eldest daughter, Deborah Jean Gale. He is survived by his sister Cleta Pergament of Atlanta, GA; his daughter Vickie Ayer and her husband Herley of Oklahoma City, OK; his son Steve Brian Stroud of Ruidoso, NM; his daughter Leslie Fleming and her husband Roger of Weatherford, OK; his grandson Michael Garretson and his wife Vilma of Yukon, OK; his granddaughter Amber Clear and her sons Jackson and Stone of Weatherford, OK; his grandson Matt Fleming, his wife Kodi, and their children Tayte and Josey of Weatherford, OK; his grandson Dr. Chase Stroud, his wife Khuyen, and their son Steven of New York, NY; his ex-wife and "good friend" Frankie Jameson of Weatherford, OK; and his beloved caregivers Betty and Ricky Phillips of Ruidoso, NM.
Throughout his life, Steve would often say, "Life is like a wagon wheel. Sometimes you're at the top of the wheel, and sometimes you're down in the mud and muck. His passing has certainly left his family and friends down in the mud and muck, but because of his sage words, they know they will eventually be higher on the wheel of life while always carrying in their hearts the memories of the hard-working, competitive, and perpetually optimistic man they knew and loved.
A celebration of Steve's life was held on Friday, December 10, 2021 at 10:00 A.M. in Weatherford, OK.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Southwestern Oklahoma State University.