Tales from the Tread: Museum recognizes outstanding residents

For Steamboat Pilot & Today

Every year the Leckenby and Larson Awards Committee associated with the Tread of Pioneers Museum presents two awards that honor persons who have enriched the quality of life in Routt County.

These residents have served our public institutions and nonprofit organizations, preserved our local history or contributed significantly to the county’s heritage. Since 1980, the Leckenby Pioneer Award is given to a living person in Routt County who has resided locally for 30 years or more, demonstrates personal integrity and inspires youth. Since 1982, the Stanley L. Larson Award is given posthumously to former Routt County residents who have made significant contributions to the community.

For both awards, the individuals have shown strong involvement in community activities such as volunteerism, supporting organizations, serving on various boards and advisory groups, and working with youth and others to make the community a better place to live for all.

Jack Sprengle is the recipient of the 2020 Leckenby Award. (Tread of Pioneers Museum/courtesy)

2020 Leckenby Award: Jack Sprengle

Jack Sprengle was chosen for the 2020 Leckenby Award. Sprengle moved to Steamboat Springs in 1941 at age 10. Sprengle graduated from Colorado A&M (now Colorado State University) and served a tour of duty in Korea. After returning to Steamboat Springs to marry and raise his family, Sprengle’s entire working career was as a well-known and helpful local banker.

Sprengle’s involvement with the community includes over 20 years as a 4-H leader and helping with livestock sales, as well as stints on both the Routt County Planning Commission and the Steamboat Springs City Planning Commission. He was an active member of the Steamboat Springs Lions Club, Holy Name Catholic Church, and spent 12 years on the Board of the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Association (now the Old Town Hot Springs). He also served on the Cemetery Board and has volunteered at Lift-Up and the Tread of Pioneers Museum for more than 20 years.

The Reverend Leon Wilkinis is the recipient of the 2020 Larson Award. (Tread of Pioneers Museum/courtesy)

2020 Larson Award: Reverend Leon Wilkins

The Reverend Leon Wilkins was chosen for the 2020 Larson award. Wilkins began his Colorado ministry in Rangely serving as a Circuit Priest providing services in Rifle, Meeker, Craig and Rangely. He was instrumental in finding priests willing to serve in those communities. In 1971, he accepted the opportunity to be the vicar at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Steamboat Springs and moved to the community. He continued serving as a Circuit Priest in Craig and occasionally Yampa.

In 1984, St. Paul’s accomplished parish status within the Diocese of Colorado, and Wilkins became St. Paul’s first rector, where he served in this capacity until his retirement in 1988.

Wilkins was instrumental in starting the local Ministerial Association. This coalition of local churches provided resources for indigent travelers passing through Steamboat Springs so they could have access to gasoline and overnight housing. St. Paul’s was a catalyst in the formation of this activity that became the precursor of LiftUp of Routt County.

“Reverend Leon Wilkins exemplified the pioneer spirit in his role as the Circuit Priest,” longtime church member Nancy Kramer said. “And he embodied compassion and caring in his devotion to his flock in the church. Through his many years of service in the war and ministry, as well as the various walks of life that he followed, he developed solidity, compassion and gentleness — qualities for which he will be dearly remembered.”

Tread of Pioneers Museum highlights Routt County history in downtown Steamboat Springs.

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