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Durango says goodbye to longtime EMS captain with memorial and flyover

Friends, family and first responders join to honor life of Leo Lloyd, 60
Kirsten Lloyd is comforted by her mom, LeAnna Lloyd, as they are overcome with emotion during a helicopter flyover Tuesday in Durango for their uncle and brother in-law, Leo Lloyd III, an EMS captain with the Durango Fire Protection District who died Aug. 4. Five helicopters from area emergency services participated in the flyover. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Community members, friends and family packed the Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College on Tuesday to celebrate the life of Leo Lloyd, 60, a longtime Durango Emergency Medical Services captain, who died earlier this month as a result of heart complications.

The 600-seat Concert Hall could not contain all of those who wanted to attend the celebration of life, so arrangements were made for some to watch the memorial service via livestream in a lecture hall at FLC’s Center of Southwest Studies next door. Hundreds tuned in from elsewhere online.

“His nickname was ‘Avoid the Lloyd’ and anyone who exercised with him could relate to that,” said his wife, Susie Lloyd.

Leo Lloyd, Durango resident since 1980 and a longtime practitioner of emergency medicine, died Aug. 4 as a result of cardiac issues, said his brother, Joe Lloyd. He served as an EMT, a paramedic, a flight nurse and an EMS captain with the Durango Fire Protection District, as well as an international technical rescue instructor. (Durango Herald file)

Leo Lloyd was an avid outdoorsman who pushed every person he came in contact with to their fullest potential. He spent much of his time running, biking and skiing. Anything outside, Leo had an interest in according to those who were closest to him.

Durango Fire Protection District has had a rough month after losing Lloyd on Aug. 4 and then Scott Gallagher on Aug. 7. Gallagher was struck by a vehicle while on his bicycle on Florida Road in Durango. The driver is suspected of being under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash.

“He (Leo) was passionate about the outdoors and his career as a first responder,” Susie Lloyd said.

The ceremony featured many guest speakers who reminisced about their experiences with Leo. Some cried while others laughed at the memories. Leo’s brother, Joe Lloyd, owner of the Durango Joes coffee chain, gave the introduction.

He shared the story about his dream to open a coffee shop in Durango and Leo’s input.

“I remember Leo calling me right before I moved and said, ‘Joe, I don’t want to tell you what to do, but a coffee shop? Doesn’t Durango already have enough coffee shops?’” Joe Lloyd said.

He said that when Durango Joes first opened everyone would walk through the door and acknowledge him as Leo’s brother.

“So many people knew Leo,” he said. “I began to get the sense that my brother was a big deal in this town.”

He talked about how shortly after opening, he named a drink after Leo called the “ATL” referencing his famous nickname “Avoid the Lloyd.” It was a six-espresso shot latte, which is the most intense drink on the menu.

Family members and friends of Leo Lloyd III, a former EMS captain with the Durango Fire Protection District, wave to helicopters Tuesday during a flyover of Durango. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)
Susie Lloyd holds up a T-shirt on Tuesday showing an event that people participated in with her late husband, Leo Lloyd III, a former EMS captain with the Durango Fire Protection District, who died Aug. 4. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Former Durango Fire Chief Dan Noonan also spoke at the service.

He said he was able watch Leo mature not just at one job but multiple jobs, including being a paramedic, a nurse and a low angle/high angle rescue technician. He shared stories of how Leo would teach everyone around him and his calm demeanor. He became a mentor to many as a result.

“In 2002, all the fire departments and ambulance services worked hard to merge as one cohesive agency,” Noonan said. “I knew that good people were needed for us to be successful and lead us into the future. The hiring of Leo Lloyd was one of my most proud moments.”

Noonan said Leo’s efforts were considered a course of excellence for the agency.

Durango Fire Protection District EMS Chief Scott Sholes spoke about the almost 40 years he spent around Leo. He talked about his relationship with Leo and the various outdoor adventures they went on. Their working relationship started when they were with Mercy Regional Medical Center’s EMS program and included the development of the EMS program at Durango Fire.

The two enjoyed outdoor activities such as biking, backcountry skiing and climbing.

“He used to insist we could climb the ice into our 80s,” Sholes said.

He said Leo was a natural teacher and would use any moment as an educational opportunity. Sholes compared him to the “Star Wars” character Yoda.

“Like Yoda, Leo had developed a unique mentoring ability, not to just increase your knowledge and develop your competency but to instill a sort of confidence that moved your proficiency to second nature,” Sholes said.

Leo Lloyd’s sister, Stephanie Sage, said Leo was destined to save lives, constantly rescuing his siblings.

“When it comes to my relationship with Leo, ‘hero’ is only word that comes to mind,” she said.

She said he was the first person to take her skiing, rock climbing, camping and biking. A fond memory was when he took her to Banff, Canada, with his college friends.

“At that time, it seemed so natural, but as I look back, I realize how unique it really was and how special those times were,” Sage said.

She added there was always an element of risk and adventure with Leo, but she always knew she would be safe. She said the best decision Leo made was to marry his wife, Susie.

She said Leo was a talented artist. His artwork was put on display for everyone to see as they entered the Concert Hall.

Susie Lloyd, right, talks about her late husband, Leo Lloyd, with Scott Sholes, center, EMS chief with the Durango Fire Protection District, on Tuesday after a helicopter flyover in Durango. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Leo’s son, Ande, read a letter he wrote to his late father. He talked about how similar he was to his father and all the lessons he learned from Leo.

“I remember the time I learned how to ski in our driveway,” Ande said.

He shared how he struggled to make a single turn but his father was always there to help him.

For Ande, a special moment was when his father told him he was the best climbing partner he ever had while on a trip to the Bugaboos mountain range.

“You taught me everything I know when it comes to the outdoors and that gift is something I will cherish forever,” Ande said.

Earlier in the afternoon, there was a helicopter flyover to honor Leo. Family members, community members and first responders joined to watch from the Fort Lewis College Mesa as five helicopters flew over Durango.


Five emergency service helicopters flew over Durango on Tuesday to honor Leo Lloyd, a former EMS captain with the Durango Fire Protection District, who died Aug. 4. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)
A flyover took place at noon Tuesday over downtown Durango for Leo Lloyd III, a former EMS captain with the Durango Fire Protection District, who died Aug. 4. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

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