Jim Stanko and Jan Leslie win Leckenby and Larson awards

Teresa Ristow
Jim Stanko, a long time committee member with the Tread of Pioneers Museum, talks about the early days of the museum at an awards ceremony Sunday evening inside the United Methodist Church in Steamboat Springs. At the ceremony, Stanko received the 2015 Leckenby Pioneer Award, given annually to a Routt County resident who has gone over the top to help the county, including the preservation of its local history.
Austin Colbert

— On Sunday, a duo of historians with deep Routt County roots were the recipients of the Leckenby and Larson awards given annually by a committee of the Tread of Pioneers Museum.

Jim Stanko, a third-generation Steamboat Springs rancher and veteran, received the Leckenby Pioneer award for his community involvement, personal integrity and inspirational qualities.

Janet Rose Leslie, a former Hayden Valley Elementary teacher and three-time author, posthumously received the Stanley L. Larson award for her major contributions to the area. Leslie died in 2010 at the age of 72.

Each of the awards are meant to honor people who have enriched the quality of life in Routt County, either through service in a public institution, preservation of local history or through contributions to the county’s heritage.

“It does mean a lot to me,” said Stanko, a former Tread of Pioneers board member who has volunteered with the museum in some capacity since 1976.

Stanko said he was honored to be put in a category with so many impressive past recipients of the Leckenby and Larson awards, including John “Doc” Utterback and Stanko’s own great uncle, Dr. Frederick E. Willett.

“Hopefully I can continue on telling their stories and preserving Routt County’s history,” said Stanko, who was heavily involved in the republishing of The Historical Guide to Routt County. “It’s a history that needs to be preserved.”

Stanko is a member of the Tread of Pioneers’ historical accuracy and collections committees and part of the museum’s Leckenby and Larson awards committee — though he didn’t vote for himself as this year’s recipient.

Apart from the museum, Stanko is involved in the local community in many ways, including as a veteran involved with the local chapters of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion, as a 4-H volunteer and in numerous projects at the Steamboat Springs Cemetery.

Before receiving the award, Stanko awarded the Larson award to Leslie, a fellow historian whose work he was fond of.

Leslie was born in Steamboat in 1938 and eventually moved to Hayden, where she was a teacher in the Hayden School District for 32 years.

After retirement she began to research for the first of three books she would write about local history.

Leslie’s first book, “Windows to Yesterday: Routt County Rural Schools 1883-1960” was published in 1998 and detailed the history of local schoolhouses.

She later co-published with her sister “Anthracite, Barbee and Tosh: The history of Routt County and its Post Offices 1875-1971” in 2005 and in 2010 published “Images of America: Hayden,” a book containing 200 captioned vintage photographs of Hayden and the vanished coal town of Mount Harris.

Leslie’s sister Nadine Leslie accepted the award on behalf of Jan Leslie.

“She just loved historical stuff, but I think she liked the research most,” Leslie said.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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