Gary Bostrom, one of the driving forces behind Colorado Springs' $825 million Southern Delivery System, died Monday while cycling on a trail along Monument Creek.
Bostrom, 60, had worked for Colorado Springs Utilities for nearly two-thirds of his life before retiring in 2015.
"He was just a prince of a man," said John Fredell, former SDS program director who worked with Bostrom for many years. "All of us wish we were more like Gary Bostrom."
Bostrom's body was found shortly before 7 p.m. along a section of the trail near North Nevada Avenue and Austin Bluffs Parkway, said police Sgt. James Sokolik. The cause of death has not been determined, but police do not suspect foul play.
"We all wanted and expected another 30 years with Gary," said former city Councilwoman Margaret Radford.
She said she got to know him soon after she was elected in 2001, and they stayed in touch after she left the council in 2009.
"Gary was always one who could find the good in anyone ... and bring out more good, if that makes any sense," she said.
Bostrom worked at Utilities for 36 years before retiring two years ago, Mayor John Suthers said in a post about Bostrom on his Facebook page.
"Gary spent his career making sure that our community had good, clean water and plenty of it," Fredell said. "You can't find many people who have done that for their community, and spent their careers doing it."
On April 26, the Utilities engineer was given the “Bob Appel – Friend of Arkansas” award at the Arkansas River Water Basin Forum.
The SDS, a massive series of pipelines that funnels up to 50 million gallons a day of Arkansas River water to Colorado Springs, Fountain, Security and Pueblo West, began serving customers in 2016.
Decades of planning went into the project, which is made up of 50 miles of 66- and 90-inch-diameter pipelines, including a 1-mile tunnel under Interstate 25, Fountain Creek and railroad tracks.
Bostrom helped ensure the project was finished on time and under budget, Fredell said.
"(Bostrom) was instrumental in getting the permit in place and moving the Southern Delivery System forward," said Larry Small, executive director of the Fountain Creek Watershed, Flood Control and Greenway District.
"As far as water resources, there just wasn't anybody better," said Small, a former city councilman and vice mayor. "I don't know of one person who knew Gary who would say one bad thing about him."
Radford said she's still grateful for what Bostrom taught her about "how valuable our utilities system - and in particular, our water system - is." She said it altered her perspective and influenced her work as a councilwoman.
Contact Ellie Mulder: 636-0198