Remembering Bill Stanfill

Remembering Bill Stanfill

November 9, 2015–

Stanfill-headshotIt is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of former board chair and emeritus board member Bill Stanfill. Bill has been a lighthouse for COBS, helping guide us through waters turbulent, calm, and bountiful over his decades of service. We have rarely seen a more steadfast supporter of our work and of our team than Bill. Memorial details have been added below. Our thoughts are with Bill’s family, friends and community as we remember him fondly. Below are words from our Executive Director Peter O’Neil, COBS board chair Jack Rand and more, with more being added as our community continues to remember Bill. Have something to share? Email it to and we’ll include it here.

To serve, to strive and not to yield.
The Colorado Outward Bound School family


Dear Friends and Colleagues of Bill StanfiStanfill-flagll in the COBS Community,

It is with great sadness that I share the news with you that our good friend and long-time champion of COBS, Bill Stanfill, passed away Saturday night. He passed peacefully, and he was at home with his loving family.

As we all know, Bill had a passion for the Colorado Outward Bound School. We were blessed by many decades of service from this giant of a man. His leadership guided our school in the good times, as well as during the years when we struggled. And in the most recent four years, Bill’s wisdom and kindness have been instrumental in getting COBS back on the right track once again. For me personally, Bill has been like a father, a man who knew when he could, and should, step in — to listen, to offer the guidance, support, or just words of encouragement that I needed. God, he will be so missed . . . by all of us.

And now, to continue Bill’s legacy, as he would want us to do, others will have to step up to carry the torch, just as Bill has done since the passing of our founders.

With a heavy heart,

– Peter A. O’Neil, COBS Executive Director


He was a rare individual, and it was a privilege to be his friend. The best tribute to Bill I can imagine is simply to serve more 14-18 year olds in the way that COBS knows how to do it.

We’ll remember him for his character, leadership and compassion. A lovely human being.

Godspeed Bill.

– Jack Rand, COBS Board Chair


Bill, you are one of the great men whose shoulders the Colorado Outward Bound School, and so much more, was built on. You were unswerving in your loyalty and commitment – a true and steady compass. We lose a great member of our community with your passing, and we will all strive to carry on your legacy. I will never forget the faith you placed in me when I stepped into your shoes. To serve, to strive, and not to yield, my friend.

– Lauren Schmidt, outgoing COBS Board Chair


I’m thinking about what a gracious person Bill was. And how much he loved and told a great story. Also about how he went the distance… He was a colleague and friend under so many different OB and COBS circumstances. Here’s to a really fine person.

– Gruffie Clough, COBS board member


There are really no words that accurately describe Bill, but I will add a couple nonetheless. He was so fiercely committed to COBS and the Outward Bound philosophy and carried that fierceness in a gentle and humorous way. He will be sorely sorely missed and you’re right, Peter — its up to the rest of us to carry that torch with some of the same gentle and loving humor he brought to every situation.

Love you Bill Stanfill and your spirit lives on every day.

– Darvin Ayre, COBS board member


Bill: I hope you know how much we valued your leadership and unflinching devotion to the School. You will be sorely missed. Climb on old friend!

– Ron Gager, COBS board member


When I first met Bill at the LMC, I knew immediately that he was a unique figure in the Outward Bound community. During an icebreaker, we all grouped together based on our perfect weekend activity. Rather than championing long bike rides or an afternoon of climbing, Bill led the charge for the group who preferred to spend a weekend cooking a good meal with friends, paired with fine wine and jazz. No one questioned his leadership on this point.

Bill navigated tough conversations with humor and elegant solutions, encouraging us all to do the same through his example. He never lost sight of our history and used it to inspire us ever onward. Bill’s conviction, always with the right amount of levity, will be so missed. Bill was one of a kind and he truly knows what it means to serve, to strive, and never to yield.

– Darcy Struckhoff, COBS Development Director


When talking to staff or family, I have always referred to Bill as our (COBS’) guardian angel. He ushered us through some hard times and then gave new energy and guidance as we spun off to our own school again. Such a caring and gentle man with so much integrity and wisdom. I hope wherever he is now that he will still be our guardian angel.

– Nancy Crane, COBS Director of Program Operations and Safety


I remember when Bill joined the COBS board the first time — one knew immediately that he’d make a huge difference. He will be dearly missed as a colleague and a true gentleman.

– Ann Sperling


I may have only met Bill once, but he left quite the impression. Not only was he the sharpest dresser at the 2013 Black Tie & Tennis Shoes Gala I attended, but what really stood out was his love for and generosity to COBS. He bid on every single item in the auction that wasn’t getting interest, so by the end of the night, his neck was heavy with beads. I will always remember his smiling face with all those beads, and I will always be thankful for what an impact he had on your life, Dad.

– Molly O’Neil, Peter O’Neil’s daughter


Truly sorry to hear that Bill passed, I can still hear his iconic laugh from the first time I walked into the COBS office. It’s so amazing to see the change and amazing values that he helped re-instill in the COBS community. Bill is the embodiment of what it means to live life with the 5 tenets on your sleeve and I know that you too dad will continue to work to personify that. While it may be a somber time in the COBS community, we can all take joy in the fact that such an amazing man was ever a part of this wonderful community.

– Will O’Neil, COBS staff and Peter O’Neil’s son