Nominated by Carousel Ranch
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Usually, the mother of four boys has a special place in heaven, and Ann Stroh is no exception to that rule. Little did she know on New Year's Day 1964 in Covina, Calif., that when she gave birth to the firstborn son with Daddy Bruce, baby Eric would be the first of four. Still, although joined by brothers Steve, Brian and Glenn, little Eric would be such a “perfect child” to raise that Ann drew the lucky card on parenting lots of boys.
Eric Stroh grew up in Walnut, Calif., and was always happy, healthy, inquisitive, well behaved and honest. When he entered kindergarten, Eric was identified as a mentally gifted child and he was placed in challenging classes throughout his pre-collegiate years from K-12th grade classes.
The Stroh family lived in the same house from birth through 11th grade. He enjoyed the same group of friends throughout his school years. His father, Bruce, was an engineer for Southern California Gas Co., and mother, Ann, stayed at home to raise their sons. Eric had an idyllic childhood, filled with activities such as Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, all sorts of sporting activities such as swimming, baseball, soccer and tennis. He also loved the arts and took piano and guitar lessons.
Eric loved the Stroh family vacations where he had opportunities for camping, water sports, swimming, water skiing and just spending time with his brothers, parents and grandparents. Family vacations remain important to Eric today.
When Eric finished his junior year of high school, his father's company sent the family to Washington, D.C., to live there for two years. Eric insisted he was not moving out of California, as he did not want to go to college on the East Coast and was determined to go to UCLA. He found a family from church to live with, which was about 45 minutes from his high school. His senior year he drove 45 minutes to school in his Ford Pinto, he worked at Carl's Jr., and still kept straight A's. He entered the school of Engineering at UCLA. He was the only freshman to be admitted that year.
In December 1986, Eric met the love of his life, fellow Bruin Jacque Crawford. It was sparks for Jacque, who told her parents one month later that she had met the man she was going to marry.
When Eric graduated from UCLA in 1988, he was hired as sales engineer for Honeywell. He had been saving his money since childhood and was able to put a down payment on a condo in Santa Clarita. The following year, he became engaged to Jacque and spent the next year helping his future father-in-law, Wayne, prepare the Crawfords' property for the wedding which took place in 1990.
Eric and Jacque settled into the Northbridge community of Valencia. They welcomed their daughter, Jolie Dianne, in 1993. With five brothers between then, it was a shock for these two to have a girl in the family. So that Jacque could stay home with their baby, Eric took side jobs painting wall murals for extra dollars and creating rock structures around Southern California. Three years later, they welcomed daughter Chandler Suzanne. They moved into a bigger home in Valencia to accommodate the larger family.
Eric became regional sales manager for Canadian-based Power Measurement Co. As the girls grew, Eric was involved in every aspect of their childhood, from volunteering in their classrooms to chaperoning field trips and being known as the dad who could do his daughters' hair when Jacque was away. He worked on science projects, taught them any number of sporting skills and coached soccer and volleyball teams.
During this time, he became involved in Carousel Ranch to volunteer for Make a Difference Day with daughter Jo's love for horses and Eric's passion for helping those in need was a match that has continued for over a decade. Supporting Carousel Ranch has been a family affair. Father-in-law Wayne and sister-in-law Jeanna have also been instrumental in helping the ranch prosper in the last 15 years.
From the time Eric joined the Carousel Ranch board, he has been an integral part of the organization. Shortly after joining, Eric stepped up and filled the role of interim president when no on else could. He took his position very seriously, working hard to take the organization to a new level. No one, Eric included, could have predicted the incredible challenges and changes that Carousel Ranch would face in the years that followed, yet with Eric as their leader, the ranch not only survived the toughest of times, but it thrived.
From buying their property to completing renovations of their new home, obtaining use permits to the completion of the covered arena, Eric has been with Carousel Ranch.
Because of Eric's tireless leadership, from board president for five years to vice president for another five years, from friend to mentor, from fundraiser to someone who just cares so much, Eric's service to the ranch has been pivotal to the work done for children with developmental and other disabilities. He has created one of the organizations most important events, How the West Was Won which has grossed more than $250,000 over the years.
His countless hours of personal and dedicated service to Carousel Ranch have been immeasurable.
Three years ago, Eric's commitment — and that of the entire Crawford family — took on a new meaning when Jeanna and Kyle's son, Caynen, Eric's nephew, was diagnosed with autism. Life has a way of bringing people together for reasons we can't always understand at the time. Maybe Caynen was that reason.
Eric's motivation is not to be recognized, but to accomplish service to an important cause. His advice and assistance is a blessing. His work has been immense and important. He rolls up his sleeves and stands by their side whatever is needed at the ranch.
After 13 years, as Eric has watched his daughters to off to college, he and his family continues to revolve around their family life together and a love for Carousel Ranch.
— SCV Man & Woman of the Year Committee