Kenneth Robert Sturman, 87, of Cheyenne died Friday, April 5, at United Medical Center West. He was born September 30, 1914, on his family's homestead near Lusk. While growing up on the ranch he was exposed to hard work and an abiding love of the outdoors.
After finishing high school, he worked as a roughneck in the oil fields in Bakersfield, Calif. He returned to the University of Wyoming in 1936 as an agriculture major. While at the university, he was known for his prowess on the athletic field. He was a member of the freshmen basketball team, but football was where he made his mark. He was known as a fearless competitor while playing both offensive and defensive end. He was captain of the team during his senior year and received honorable mention All-American honors. At the completion of his collegiate career, the New York Browns drafted him to play professional football. However, with World War II looming, he accepted a commission in the United States Army Infantry as a second lieutenant.
After the United States declared war, Lieutenant Sturman was assigned to the Pacific Theater where he would serve with the combat infantry until the conclusion of the war. His experience took him from the Aleutians to Okinawa. He was decorated with the Bronze Star and wounded twice.
After the war, he met Lois Parsons, a Harrison, Neb. native. They were married in 1948 and had two sons, Scott in 1949 and Sam in 1951.
With the advent of hostilities in Korea, Major Sturman was called to active duty. Again he was assigned to the combat infantry where he earned the Silver Star for gallantry in action, his third Bronze Star and the French Croix de Guerre with Palm. He was wounded severely during combat operations and returned home to his family with his third Purple Heart.
After recovering from his wounds, he commanded the United States Army Ceremonial Honor Guard in Washington, D.C. The peacetime military proved to be too slow paced for him, so he resigned as a Lieutenant Colonel from active duty and became a rancher near Wyola, Mont. for the next three years.
In 1957, the family moved to Cheyenne where he began his career with the Wyoming Department of Agriculture. He remained in the department for nearly 25 years, eventually becoming director of the Soil and Water Conservation division. During this period, he returned to the University of Wyoming to finish his Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture. He was also involved extensively as a United States Army reservist with the 5th Army Rifle Team.
In 1989, Kenneth Sturman was elected into the University of Wyoming Athletic Hall of Fame for his excellence on the football field in 1937, 1938 and 1939.
After retirement from public life, Mr. Sturman enjoyed his grandchildren, playing golf, gardening with his wife Lois and supporting his beloved University of Wyoming Cowboys. Mr. Sturman was a member of the Cowboy Joe Club and Cheyenne Quarterback Club.
He is survived by his wife, Lois Mae Sturman of Cheyenne, two sons, Scott Sturman of Fresno, Calif., and Sam Sturman of Cheyenne; a sister Orion Conner of Bakersfield, Calif. and seven grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Rebecca Sturman; three brothers, three sisters and a grandson, Clay Sturman.
Services were Tuesday, at 10 a.m. at Wiederspahn Radomsky Chapel of the Chimes with the Rev. Dick Young officiating. Cremation has taken place at Cheyenne Memorial Gardens, and burial of the urn will be in Cheyenne Memorial Gardens. Military honors will be provided by the Wyoming Air National Guard.
Contributions may be made to the Clay Sturman Skate Park in care of Cheyenne Parks and Recreation.
The Lusk Herald
October 21, 1992
Former resident nominated for 'Player of the Century'
A former Niobrara County resident has been listed as one of the top 30 former Wyoming Cowboy football players who are nominated for "The Player of the Century" campaign now underway.
Ken Sturman, who played offensive end and defensive end for the Pokes from 1937 to 1939. He was born and raised on a ranch east of Lusk, the son of John C. and Mary R. Sturman. He attended Lusk schools and graduated from Lusk High School.
"I learned to play football at Lusk High School under 'Red' Owen, an excellent coach," Sturman said. "I entered the University of Wyoming in the fall of 1936, played freshman football that season and won a numeral. Freshmen were not allowed to play on the varsity team in those days. I played varsity football in 1937, 1938 and 1939, at both offensive and defensive end positions, usually for entire games.
"I made honorable mention All-Conference my sophomore year; my junior and senior years I was named first-string All-Conference end by the Associated Press. My senior year the Associated Press selected me for its Honorable Mention All-American Team.
"Following my college football playing days, I was offered a Uniform Player's Contract to play professional football for the Brooklyn Dodgers Football Club, Inc. I was unable to fulfill the contract as I was called to active duty to serve in the United States' Army during World War II," Sturman said.
During World War II, Sturman served with the 7th Infantry Division in the Pacific. He also served with the 2nd Infantry Division during the Korean Conflict. He received the Silver Star, the French Croix de Guerre with Palm and three purple hearts when he was wounded in battle.
"I feel honored to be selected as one of the 30 football players listed on the official ballot for the Player of the Century," Sturman said.
Sturman was captain of the Cowboy football team in 1939. He and his wife, Lois, have two sons, Scott and Sam.
This link is the original professional football contract offered to Kenneth Sturman in 1940. Kenneth Sturman Pro Football Contract, 1940
More details on Kenneth Sturman's induction into the University of Wyoming Hall of Fame may be found at UW Athletics Hall of Fame