Craig Stadler’s Colorado homecoming resonates with emotion.
by Jon Rizzi
1982 Masters champion and former Evergreen resident Craig Stadler returned to Colorado last Saturday for a poignant tribute.
The “Walrus,” who now lives in Florida, had shared a magnificent home high in the pines with his wife Jan, whom he’d married in 2010 and who sadly passed away in June 2021 following a battle with ALS. The manse sold three months later.
Their years in Evergreen brought the Stadlers close to many community organizations. Chief among those was the Evergreen Christian Outreach (EChO), a nonprofit founded in 1986 as a food pantry that quickly expanded into a resource for healthy food, shelter, financial and job search assistance, case management, counseling and referrals to help individuals and families in need. A resale shop, plus grants and public, corporate and private donations keep it operating.
As late as 2020, however, EChO was serving its constituents at different locations in Evergreen. That’s when Jan, a longtime board member, connected EChO board President Ray Dowdle with Brett Edwards, the owner of a building that had previously housed a Safeway, among other businesses.
Generous sale terms followed, and by early 2021, EChO had begun the consolidation of its operations, with the Stadlers donating considerable time and resources to the renovation of the space. 2022 marked the completion of the project with all programs under one roof.
During the renovation of the building, Craig, who turns 70 this year, loaded 120 sacks of concrete into his truck, unloaded them all at the site and carried them in. “No wonder I don’t play golf anymore,” he quipped on Saturday.
“Craig and Jan were willing to tackle big challenges, think strategically, bring their time and talent to the table, and dared to dream big dreams,” EChO Executive Director Dale Flanders said. “They were the ultimate champions of EChO, and we are a better place because of them.”
That place now features a plaque at its entrance dedicating the center to Jan Stadler, a “beloved and revered EChO board member without whose vision, resourcefulness and initiative this home for EChO would not exist.” On Saturday, with the help of the organization’s officers, Craig mounted the tribute to the brick wall in front of a crowd of about 50 supporters and volunteers—all of whom had moved into the vestibule from a reception in the ample pantry to join him in raising a glass to her memory.
Obviously moved, her husband then turned and kissed her bronzed, beaming likeness.
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