William Henry Sustrich

September 23, 1926 ~ July 25, 2018 (age 91)

William “Bill” Henry Sustrich, 91, of Salida died July 25, 2018. He was born Sept. 23, 1926, in Canonsburg, Pa., to Joseph and Alice Sustersic, Slovenian immigrants. Mr. Sustrich grew up in Pennsylvania and joined the Navy during World War II, serving aboard the minesweeper YMS Yancy in the Pacific Ocean. Following the war, in 1949 he moved to Denver, where he became an explosives engineer. He developed the explosive designs to initiate stage separation on the space program’s Titan rockets. He later worked on explosive designs for advanced military projects. Although his first marriage to Elaine Gilbert did not last, the couple had two sons and a daughter. He later married Frances Wilkerson and welcomed her daughter to the family. The couple was married for 52 years. In 1968, Mr. Sustrich and his wife moved to Salida and purchased the Wagon Wheel Guest Ranch in Maysville. Besides the general maintenance and operation of the Wagon Wheel, he was also a salesman of roofing and coating products until the mid-1980s. Family and friends said he was the “patriarch” of Maysville, having the distinction of living and working in the small community for the greatest number of years. This year he and his wife celebrated their 50th year owning and operating the Wagon Wheel Guest Ranch. Over the years, he enjoyed interacting with the guests and sharing his stories and unique sense of humor. Family and friends said many of his guests had become cherished friends. Mr. Sustrich was an avid outdoorsman and a champion of wilderness and wildlife. He was an active member of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. Many a summer night would find him next to the water with a fishing pole in hand, and each fall he looked forward to elk hunting season. As a benefactor member of the National Rifle Association, he was passionate about protecting the Second Amendment and preserving gun rights. He felt it was necessary to take a stand for what he believed in. He often shared his opinion in written form and encouraged others to do the same. Mr. Sustrich was preceded in death by his parents; brothers, Joseph Sustrich, Henry (Sara) Sustrich, Stanley Sustrich and Edward (Mea) Sustrich; sisters, Alice (Harry) Yecko, Josephine (Edward) Klapkowski, Matilda (Henry) Retzel and Pauline Sustrich; and an infant granddaughter. Survivors include his wife; sons, William (Debbie) Sustrich of Sheridan, Wyo., and Kenneth (Darlene) Sustrich of Salida; daughter, Jennifer Reno of Cripple Creek; stepdaughter, Andrea Wilkerson of Salida; five grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. A celebration of his life for family and friends is planned at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Second Amendment Foundation and Eddie Eagle GunSafe program. Arrangements were with Lewis and Glenn Funeral Home in Salida. Online condolences may be offered at

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