Lloyd Golder put a hand on his heart whenever he drove by Golder Ranch Fire District offices, his wife said.


Lloyd W. Golder III - a longtime rancher and real estate developer who is well-known for helping form the Golder Ranch Fire District - died Saturday at age 87.

Golder, who at one point owned and worked 11 cattle ranches in Southern Arizona with his family, was under hospice care at Sierra Madre Adult Care Home, said his wife, Vicki Cox Golder. She said her husband was diagnosed with dementia, and also suffered a major stroke in August.

His work to help form the Golder Ranch Fire District on the Tucson area's far northwest side was "one of his proudest accomplishments," said Cox Golder, adding that her husband also donated the first ambulance to the district. "In his later years, he would place his hand over his heart every time we passed by the administration offices on Golder Ranch Road," she said.

Golder also was instrumental in the construction of Coronado K-8 School in Catalina; supported YMCA and YWCA after-school programs; donated land so churches could be built in the community; and sold about 600 acres for Biosphere 2, a science research facility currently owned by the University of Arizona.

Golder was born in Chicago on Oct. 24, 1925, and joined the Navy as a teen. While in the Navy, he attended Northwestern University and received a bachelor's in history in 1947.

In the early 1950s, he taught at Evanston High School in Evanston, Ill., and also coached wrestling and football. Golder moved with his family to Tucson in the late 1950s after his mother, Esther Betty Barns Golder, sold two hotels in Chicago to "follow her passion for the ranching business, where stories are still told of her attendance at local cattle auctions," said Cox Golder.

Golder, with his first wife, Helen, who survives him, raised five children and spent their first years on Rancho Vistoso, where Golder was a cowboy on the open range.

Other ranches the family owned included Rancho Mi Sueño in Pinal County, Rancho Double Adobe in Cochise County, and Sierrita Mountain in Pima County, Cox Golder said.

Golder also purchased the Rail N Ranch, commonly called Golder Ranch, originally an 18,000-acre spread, in the late 1950s. Portions of the ranch, which is still a working cattle ranch, were sold for development that now serves more than 18,000 people, Cox Golder said.

In the early 1960s, Golder built an earthen dam and lake on the Cañada del Oro wash in lower Pinal County with plans that it serve a large-scale development, such as today's SaddleBrooke retirement community, Cox Golder said. "People came to water ski and play in the lake," she said.

But in 1981, then-Gov. Bruce Babbitt's administration breached the dam because it worried it might break and flood homes downstream, she said.

Cox Golder married Golder in 1974. The couple bought and sold real estate as Vicki L. Cox and Associates for about 40 years. They had two sons.

In addition to Cox Golder, Golder is survived by children Don Golder of Prescott; John Golder of Santa Cruz, Calif.; Mike Golder of Colorado Springs, Colo.; Wendy Ducote of Tucson; and Julie Golder, Victor Golder and Lloyd Golder IV, all of Golder Ranch; 16 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

Services are private. Donations in Golder's memory may be made to any YWCA or YMCA branch.

Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at 573-4104 or cduarte@azstarnet.com