Theobald ascended into the presence of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on September 24, 2020 at the age of 94. He was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, WWII veteran, medical doctor, and missionary. Sterling was a resident of Grace Village Retirement Community, Winona Lake, Indiana.
He was born on the family's Saskatchewan farm on October 22, 1925, the fifth of six children born to Robert and Mona Theobald.
In 1943, he left Saskatchewan to visit his brother in Minnesota and was ordered to report to the U.S. draft board on his 18th birthday if he intended to live in the United States, which he did, and served in WWII from 1944 to the end of the war in Huy, Belgium.
Sterling's intention was always to be a medical missionary, so after the war he attended Bryan College to begin his studies. While he was there, he met his future wife Wanita (Nita) Mae and they both transferred to Manchester College in Nita Mae's home state of Indiana. They married on June 12, 1949. All four children were born during his continuing medical training with the youngest born in 1956 the year of completing his internship in Family Practice. After this birth, Nita Mae suffered acute exhaustion and was hospitalized for several months. Their application to become missionaries was denied due to her health.
During this time, Sterling was working at a steel mill in Gary Indiana, when he learned of an urgent need for a physician at a vacated doctor's office in Dyer, Indiana. He developed a very successful practice there from 1958-1966.
In 1963, Sterling attended a medical conference in Estes Park, Colorado. When Sterling saw Longs Peak, he knew he had to climb that mountain! He and Nita Mae hired a guide for $10 and did a two day climb up Longs Peak via the "cable route" (north face). They joined the Chicago Mountaineering Club where the family learned mountain climbing on the bluffs in Devil's Lake, Wisconsin. In August 1964, the family climbed Longs Peak together, starting at 8:00 a.m. on a stellar bright sunny day and retuned after dark at their campsite at the Longs Peak Campground. The morning "bribe" was "if you kids climb Longs Peak, I will take you to Elitches."
Sterling and Nita Mae fulfilled their dream and became involved with New Tribes Mission in 1966 until 1978. He established a medical center where staff treated health concerns of missionaries returning from overseas.
Sterling and Nita Mae climbed Longs Peak again in 1978 where he described the day: "started at 4:00 a.m., I led the climb at the cable route and I ran out of rope, narrowly escaping a 1000 foot fall."
In 1979, they moved to St. Louis to be part of a local church, and Sterling worked as a medical doctor for the U.S. Army. Sterling and Nita Mae focused on establishing a church in the inner city of St Louis and eventually moved to a "sister" church in Webster Groves, MO. During the 1980s Sterling and Nita Mae would visit Estes Park area for three weeks in the summer and enjoy hiking in RMNP. Nita Mae passed away suddenly in 1992. Her last hike was a snowshoe up the St. Vrain Mountain trail December 1991.
A second marriage to Ruth Ann Cone in 1994 lasted 25 years with traveling to visit children in Africa and Europe, as well as relatives in Taiwan and all over the U.S. They also enjoyed hiking in the mountains in Colorado. Sterling climbed Longs Peak two more times. Once with a small group from Kansas City and the other with his daughter Mary in 1994 (30 years from their first climb), who had moved to the Estes Park area in 1991.
Sterling always had a special connection to the Estes Park area and mountains, especially Longs Peak. Even at age 94, with his walker, he would say "if I could get to Colorado, I think I could still climb that mountain."
Dad became my best friend over the years and was dearly loved by his two families and many friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, his first wife, three brothers, one sister, his daughter Cheryl Cook and his second wife.
Mary Hunter, Sterling's youngest daughter has lived mostly in Allenspark since 1991. She continues to love hiking in the mountains and has climbed Longs Peak several times, usually in honor of family. Every hike in RMNP holds many dear memories with her father.
Services were performed in Warsaw, Indiana and St. Louis, Missouri. He was buried at Jefferson Barracks Cemetery in St. Louis next to his first wife. Military rites were performed.