A 30-year veteran of Aspen real estate, Bill founded Stirling Homes in 1978, which merged with Peak Properties of Aspen in 2012 to become Stirling Peak Properties. He has served as president of the Aspen Board of Realtors, VP of the Colorado Association of Realtors, and Mayor of Aspen. Through his community involvement, Bill has gained an unparalleled knowledge of Aspen’s planning process, land use codes and historic preservation guidelines. He is known as a progressive thinker and a passionate patron of the arts. Bill personifies, “real estate expertise with character.”
Born in Gainesville, Florida in 1942, the second oldest among five siblings. Son of an itinerant Episcopal minister and a poet/teacher. Lived all over the South and graduated from Palm Beach HS in 1960. Graduated from the University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee, cum laude, 1964, with a Political Science major and an English minor. Served in the Peace Corps in Kenya from 1964-66. Worked with farming co-op associations made up of a tribe closely connected to the legendary Misaim people. Climbed Kilimanjaro and spoke Kiswahili everyday for two years. Returned to America and moved to NYC and entered Union Theological School, a non-denominational seminary, which was the east coast center of the anti-Viet Nam War movement. Reinhold Neibuhr and Paul Tillich were on the faculty. Left the seminary in the summer of 1967, and became anEnglish teacher in a series of different storefront schools for high school dropouts in Harlem. Co-organized and led the African Summer in 1968 and took 25 storefront school dropouts back to Africa for three months. In 1969 co-founded Identity 69, aka College Discovery, at Ft. Dix, N.J. – a college prep course for returning Viet Nam G.I.’s. At the same time garnered an independent study M.A.T. in urban education from Montclair State University, N.J.
Moved to Aspen in 1972 with his wife at the time, Terry Turek, on a self-styled sabbatical from east coast teaching with every intention of returning to NYC within two years. Sabbatical still underway 35+ years later. Was a bartender, dump truck driver, carpenter, property manager, substitute HS teacher, and a small business entrepreneur in property management and real estate. Started Stirling Homes, Inc. in 1978, an Aspen real estate brokerage, property management and real estate company. By 1987 SH, Inc. was the second biggest property management firm in Aspen. Sold off the property management division in 1991.
In 1986 married the love of his life, Katharine Thalberg, after a nine-year courtship in the lobby of the Hotel Jerome. She was a writer, radical feminist, animal rights activist, and founder/operator of Explore Booksellers and Bistro, which was Aspen’s cultural and literary center.
Has been a life long political activist. Was a Jesse Jackson delegate to the 1988 National Democrat Convention in Atlanta? An Obama delegate to 2008 Colorado State Convention in May. Was Mayor of Aspen 1983-91 and overcame an unsuccessful recall effort in 1990, which was inspired by disgruntled citizens unhappy with his progressive programs. Sponsored and co-sponsored groundbreaking land use, historic preservation, and environmental ordinances. Was considered controversial by his Realtor colleagues, as he took a long-term view of Aspen’s best interests and resisted short term, business oriented fixes.
Co-founded the Community Office of Resource Energy in 1994, aka CORE, which brought wind power to Colorado and helped form the American chapter of Peak Oil. Devotes any time away from his business to changing the currents of Climate Change. Recently served as chair of a citizen’s Task Force appointed by the City Council, charged with analyzing the historic preservation programs of the City of Aspen.
Was President of the Aspen Board of Realtors, 1978-79, and Vice President of the Colorado Association of Realtors, Mountain District, 1981-82. Taught a course on the Western Slope, named “marketing mountain resort properties.” Sold the legendary Sardy House in mid 1980’s, which was one of the early million dollar deals in Aspen. Is very knowledgeable about Aspen and Pitkin County’s land use codes. Was Aspen’s first Realtor of the Year and was awarded the Colorado Association of Realtor Political Achievement Award in 1988.
An enthusiastic skier, climber, hiker, tennis player, and golfer. An animal rights activist who owns two rescue dogs. Was together for 29 years with Katharine Thahlberg, until her death in 2006. Remains in close touch with his three successful stepdaughters. Ashley has her own public relations firm in Santa Barbara; Brooke is VP in charge of Communications for the NTI (Nuclear Threat Initiative); and Deva is Music Supervisor for films working out of Tom Hanks’s Playtone offices in Santa Monica. Is a voracious reader and lover of classical music, rock and roll and independent films. He still introduces authors and leads book discussions for the new owners of Explore Booksellers in his spare time.