We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Lakewood Location
Obituary for William Jack Stiner
Jan. 6, 1944 to Aug. 4, 2021
Longtime Golden, CO Attorney William (Bill) Jack Stiner, 77, died Aug. 4, 2021 at St. Anthony Hospital, Lakewood, of natural causes. He was cremated and burial will be in the Stiner Family plot at Lyon Lake Cemetery in Marshall, Michigan.
Bill was larger than life. He impacted people throughout his life and was strong in his beliefs and commitments. He lived life to the fullest, giving his all. Whether it was politics, sports or his family, you always knew where he stood.
Bill was born Jan. 6, 1944 in Marshall, MI to Hazel (Smitherman) and Kenneth Stiner. He grew up at Lyon Lake and attended the last one-room country school house in Calhoun County at Lyon Lake. A highlight of his youth was getting a paying job at the age of 10 portraying Buster Brown, making promotional appearances for the shoe company. He attended Marshall Middle School and graduated from Marshall High School in 1961. During that time, Bill’s friend Mark Stuart recalled standing atop the Marshall Railroad Depot with Bill to greet a campaigning John F. Kennedy.
After high school, Bill attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, graduating from UM Business School in 1965. He earned his Juris Doctor cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School in 1967. He remained a huge Michigan Wolverines (Go Blue!) football fan for the rest of his life.
After Law School, Bill returned to Marshall, and became involved in politics and Civil Rights issues during the turbulent Vietnam War years. He became active in Calhoun County’s Democratic Party and ran Presidential Candidate Eugene McCarthy’s campaign in the county. After Bobby Kennedy died, Bill personally met Hubert Humphrey and agreed to endorse him. One of his proudest moments, he said, was being tear gassed in front of the White House while participating in an antiwar protest, then enjoying a good meal afterwards. Bill carried his political involvement event further to become a Michigan Democratic Party Convention Delegate for George McGovern.
For several years, Bill lived with good friends Mark Stuart, Vic Zerbi, Dean Bender and others in an old, unoccupied cottage at Beadle Lake, in Emmett Township, which soon became party headquarters. Their landlord was threatened by his insurance agent with higher rates for “allowing hippies to occupy his premises.” Most occupants, however, were practicing lawyers at the time and no rent hikes were levied. The final party took place the day after they moved out of the cottage when the Battle Creek Fire Dept. burned it as a training exercise.
“In December of that same year,” recalled Mark Stuart, “we (he and Bill) were notified by our local draft board that our student deferments had expired and we would be drafted within the next few weeks. We had both been anti-war demonstrators but were both sworn in to the U.S. Army Reserve Military Police Detachment on Dec. 24, 1968 at the Jackson, MI Armory in order to avoid being drafted.
“We were inducted into Basic Training and Military Police School in Spring, 1969 at Ft. Gordon, GA at the ripe old age of 25. Because our service numbers were one number apart, we were assigned to the same company and platoon,” Mark continued.
Perhaps it was during Reserve Summer Camp in Colorado Springs that Bill fell in love with Colorado, not knowing then that he would spend the last 44 years of his life there. Friend Bob Blaske who also served in the Reserves with Bill, remembered the two of them spending an afternoon on a Colorado mountainside drinking a bottle of inexpensive wine (Boone’s Farm?) discussing life.
Bill became assistant prosecutor for Calhoun County Prosecutor John Jereck and then chief assistant prosecutor. He also headed up the Calhoun County Citizens Grand Jury. Later he became partners with John Jereck in private practice and then established a solo private practice. A trial lawyer, Bill specialized in criminal defense, juvenile, traffic, child custody and divorce cases. He ran for the Battle Creek City Council, served as a member of the Calhoun County Democratic Party executive committee, the executive committee of the county’s Legal Aid Board, was a member of the Calhoun County Bar Association and the Calhoun County Urban League.
Bill married local journalist Ellen R. Heinrichs on Nov. 13, 1971 in Marshall and enjoyed 49 years of marriage. They had one son, Rob, named after Robert Kennedy. In 1977, the family moved from Battle Creek, MI with their two German shepherds Gibson and Casta to Conifer, CO in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains west of Denver. Taking a break from practicing law, Bill pursued a longtime dream by purchasing and running an Italian restaurant “Salvatore’s” in Lakewood. After that he worked as general manager of the Ace Baking Co. and then returned to practicing law with the Jefferson County Public Defenders Office. After that, he built his own successful law firm in Golden where he spent the remainder of his legal career. While living in Conifer, Bill also served as a volunteer with the Elk Creek Fire Department. After 18 years in Conifer, Bill and his wife downsized and moved to a condo in Genesee.
Michigan lawyer friend Bob Blaske described Bill as “irreverently soft-hearted…a rapid-fire cross examiner, the quickest draw and fastest unerring shot with a question I have ever seen, he invariably brought truth to the courtroom.”
Bill himself told of the time he got slightly carried away in the courtroom while cross examining a witness by vehemently questioning “Honest?” to a witness’s statement. “Honest?” was a family tradition that when you answered “Honest!” back you absolutely dare not be lying. Or else!
He had a delightful sense of humor throughout his life. When asked by a reporter for the Park County Republican and Fairplay Flume newspaper in Colorado what would he like to do if he wasn’t practicing law, he responded, “I’d be a professional gambler.” Unfortunately his name was misspelled in that article with an extra “e” (Steiner) despite the fact that his wife Ellen was the editor. The mistake was blamed on a computer glitch. In a subsequent letter to the editor, Bill expressed hope that Ellen would now forgive him for misspelling her maiden name for years after they were married when emailing her parents in Wisconsin. He wrote, “Oh well, what the hell is an ‘e’ among friends (and wives)!” The editor added the following note: “Anyone know a good attorney?”
Though he never became a professional gambler, Bill did enjoy gambling in numerous casinos, including ones in Las Vegas, London, Mississippi, Lake Tahoe, New Mexico and in Black Hawk and Central City, CO. He also liked to travel, was a voracious reader, loved attending Colorado Avalanche hockey games, Denver Nuggets basketball games, and was a huge fan of the Denver Broncos. He enjoyed living in the foothills and spending vacation time in Summit County at Lake Dillon. He was a devoted husband, brother, father, grandfather and uncle and he will be greatly missed!
Bill was preceded in death by his parents Hazel and Kenneth Stiner and his sister Judy Stiner Cohen. Survivors include his wife, Ellen; son, Rob; daughter-in-law Karen (Osmundsen); two beloved grandsons, Sam and David; numerous sisters- and brothers-in-law, including James Cohen, Carol (Heinrichs) and Bob Dombroski, Tom Heinrichs, Nancy (Heinrichs) and Russ Wendorf, and Kay (Heinrichs) and Gene Hintze; several cousins, nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.
A private family Celebration of Life was held Aug. 8 in Westminster, CO at the home of relatives Jon and Julie Cohen and another Celebration of Life will be held later via Zoom to accommodate widespread family members and friends.
The family asks those who wish to contribute in Bill’s name do so to:
The American Lung Association
5600 Greenwood Plaza Blvd. #100, Greenwood Village, CO 80111