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CC Honors Stroud Family in Newly Named Space

Percy Pellerin, Kelley Dolphus Stroud's nephew, views the commemorative column honoring the Stroud's legacy. Pellerin's mother, Nina, was the ninth of the Stroud siblings. Photo by Lonnie Timmons III
Percy Pellerin, Kelley Dolphus Stroud's nephew, views the commemorative column honoring the Stroud's legacy. Pellerin's mother, Nina, was the ninth of the Stroud siblings. Photo by Lonnie Timmons III

The honoring of a family’s legacy — and its lineage of perseverance — is enshrined in the Kelley Dolphus Stroud ’31 Club Level on the fourth floor of CC’s Ed Robson Arena. The family’s story is one of tragedy and triumph, and the space, named for Stroud, a prolific scholar, elite athlete, and Olympic competitor, brings together CC’s history, its ongoing commitment to antiracism, the Olympics, Stroud’s native Colorado Springs, and the City for Champions initiative.

The space on the club level, developed in partnership with Saunders Norwood Construction, was formally dedicated at a ceremony on Dec. 14. Approximately 40 people, many of them members of the Stroud family, made the journey to help commemorate the Stroud ancestry and its place in Colorado Springs’ history — and beyond. The family’s legacy is honored with photos and text on two identical  commemorative columns, one on the east side and the other on the west side of the club level, which is open to members of the CC and broader community during arena events and regular business hours. 

Kelley Dolphus Stroud ’31, who was inducted into the Colorado College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006, was one of the most prolific scholars and elite athletes to ever emerge from the Pikes Peak region, despite years of assaults, persecutions, and opportunities denied him because of his race. He was admitted to Harvard University but did not attend because of finances. Local businessman and entrepreneur Henry Sachs recognized his potential and provided funding for him to attend CC, where he graduated cum laude in 1931 with a degree in political science, and was the first Black CC student ever elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He was the only Black student at CC until his sister, Effie Stroud Frazier ’31, joined him the year after he started.

Stroud, a gifted runner, won the Pikes Peak Marathon several times and in 1928 broke a record that had stood for a quarter-century. Despite qualifying for the 1928 U.S. Olympic trials, he was denied funding the other competitors received to travel to the finals, which were held at the stadium at Harvard University. Undeterred, he walked, ran, and hitchhiked the nearly 2,000 miles from Denver to Boston in the middle of July. He made it to Boston six hours before the qualifying race, having not eaten or slept the previous day. Exhausted and hungry, he collapsed before the finish line.

CC President L. Song Richardson says she wants all CC students to remember the grit and resilience exhibited by Kelley Dolphus Stroud and his family. “There are lessons to all of us and to our students, as we remain committed to increasing access to a CC education,” she said during the dedication of the space.

Stroud’s achievements were many and remarkable, but so were those of his siblings, noted Richardson. All 11 Stroud children attended college, with Stroud and his 10 siblings achieving historic milestones in science, math, academia, the arts, business, and public service.

“This day feels like a great honor; a validation of the people of my father’s generation. They overcame obstacles, discrimination, and prejudice to offer the full extent of their talents to the community and the world,” said Juanita Stroud Martin. “I’m still in a state of shock” about the commemoration of her father, she said. “Nothing stopped him; obstacles became stairsteps for him.” 

“We historically honor the dead, but it is a blessing that their legacy is intact for future generations,” said Cossetta Stroud, Dolphus Stroud’s great-niece, who flew in from Los Angeles for the ceremony. “I’ve been empowered by the accomplishments of my family in everything I do.”

Many members of the family had gathered at the arena a few days before the dedication ceremony for a hockey game, in which Ashleigh Bourgeois, the granddaughter of Stroud’s youngest sister, Bobby, dropped the hockey puck.

Her father, Carl Bourgeois (Kelley Dolphus Stroud’s nephew), invoked a theme that ran resoundingly through the dedication ceremony: that of ancestry. “I hope the ones who came before us are able to see what their example has created, even under sometimes extreme conditions,” he said. “The history and scholarship of the family is remarkable. They have been an inspiration for my life.”

Colorado College’s Stroud Scholars program is named in honor of Kelley Dolphus Stroud and his sister, Effie Stroud Frazier.

 

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