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Notable Neighbors
home : features : notable neighbors
December 1, 2021

7/21/2021 6:03:00 PM
Notable Neighbors
William E. “Bill” Stiver
William E. “Bill” Stiver
Living the American Dream: the Stiver family, (from L) Nicole, Justin, Alec, Carla and Bill
Living the American Dream: the Stiver family, (from L) Nicole, Justin, Alec, Carla and Bill

Dean M. Laux

Living The American Dream
In his book, The Epic of America, published in 1931 during the Great Depression, James Truslow Adams introduced the concept of the American Dream: “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.” In short, we don’t have to be born with a silver spoon in our mouth. We can all achieve our dreams if we just work hard and stay out of trouble.
In an even more sanguine Hollywood version of the American Dream, a nice guy in a small town marries his high school sweetheart, they raise a family—let’s say, two boys and a girl—he makes his fortune, and they live happily ever after.
Meet Bill Stiver, and you can have it either way.
Bill was born in 1958 in the small town of Ypsilanti, Michigan and grew up in nearby Warren, where his dad was sales manager for a container company. When he was 15 the family—which now included Bill’s younger sisters Linda and Shelley—moved to Englewood, and their dad fulfilled a longtime dream in buying the Delta Oil Station, a shop doing auto repairs, tire sales and selling fuel oil for the earth movers used by developers building new homes in the burgeoning Rotonda communities.
“I went to Venice High School, because Englewood didn’t have a high school then,” Bill recalls. “At Warren I had already used the same textbooks that they gave me for my first year at Venice,” so he had a pretty easy ride that year. But he also took courses at Sarasota County Vocational Technical School, and he worked for his dad, doing auto repairs, tire work, oil changes and sundry other jobs. “It was hot, dirty work going to the construction sites, pulling those huge tires off the loaders and bringing them back to the shop to work on,” he says. But he liked it. He learned enough in his dad’s business and in his Voc/Tech courses—including welding—to know he wanted to skip college and make his career in the family business. As soon as he graduated from high school in 1976, he took a full-time job at Delta Oil, fully expecting to take over the family business once his dad gave him the go-ahead. In 1977 he married his high school sweetheart Carla, and the future looked rosy.
Alas, there was a bump in the road. Make that a huge bump. His dad and mom decided to go their separate ways that year and made plans to sell Delta Oil. “Here we were, just back from our honeymoon, and I was going to be without a job,” Bill says. “I wasn’t sure what to do. They were looking for welders on the Alaskan pipeline, and I had a chance to do that. They were paying really well, but ultimately I decided I didn’t want to leave here.”
So he did the sensible thing and partnered with Gordon Spargur, who had been employed by his father at Delta Oil. “We rented a space on North Indiana Avenue and started an auto repair shop on our own. That was a scary time,” trying to establish a business in competition with lots of other repair shops in the area and earn a reputation as a trustworthy and honest outfit. They made headway, with most of their work in auto repairs. And they got a big break in 1981, when Bill’s dad offered to put up a building on River Road, renting half of it to them and opening a tire store in the other half. It was S & S Automotive, named for Stiver and Spargur, on their side and Stiver’s Tire on his dad’s side.
Gordon retired a couple of years later, and Bill was able to buy out Gordon’s share and incorporate S & S with Stiver’s Tire, forming Stiver’s Tire and Auto, owned 50 percent by William J. Stiver the elder and 50 percent by William E. “Bill” Stiver the younger.
As time went on, Bill says, “Dad spent more and more of his time serving as President of the Englewood Area Little League. He was and is very well known around town for his volunteer work on behalf of Englewood Area Youth Baseball, and the ballfields on River Road are named after him.” His dad retired in 2003, and Bill bought out the other half of the business.
“After a while I realized that my company had a problem, because there wasn’t much business during the summer months, and most of our income stemmed from the tourist season, October to April,” Bill says. “I needed a business for the summer months, and I needed year-round employment for my workers, so I started Southern Mower, selling mainly to commercial mowers but also to residential mowers.” The business has grown steadily with that addition.
Last year Bill started a new venture, selling trailers. “It has far exceeded our expectations,” he says, “and we have customers coming from all over the state. We’re opening a trailer repair shop and have a welding operation as well.” Despite last year’s pandemic, business is good and Bill’s family is well provided for.
Bill started doing volunteer work very early in his life. “It was a high priority in our family. I joined the Englewood Jaycees around the time I got married. I served as Treasurer, and I was a member for a long time.” In 1978, at age 20, he served as Chairman of Englewood’s Pioneer Days, the youngest person ever to be given that responsibility by the Jaycees.
He joined the Kiwanis Club in 1985, and two years later he joined the Lemon Bay Sunrise Rotary Club, along the line serving a term as President and now serving as the Club’s Foundation Chair. The foundation is well known for its financial contributions to the community and conducts a number of fundraisers in the area every year. He’s a longtime member of the Elks Lodge and managing member of the Lemon Bay Cemetery, as well as Treasurer of the Lemon Bay Baseball Boosters. In addition, he reckons he has served some 20 years in all as an unpaid coach for the Englewood Little League and Lemon Bay High School baseball teams.
But Bill is not all work and no play. He’s a licensed pilot and also owns a 46-ft catamaran powered by two 240 hp diesel engines. He likes to fish and scuba dive, and he takes the family on boating trips to places like the Bahamas or Key West, where he once owned property. Though he’s now 63, he plays ice hockey twice a week in a men’s league, having taken up the sport at age 40 after a 25-year hiatus. The games are full contact, and he has a titanium rod in his leg to attest to that. “I like the game,” he says. “It’s fast and aggressive, with bursts of activity, but though it’s rough, the players are all good sportsmen.” On the other hand, he rarely tries his hand at golf. Hockey players are usually good golfers, too, because the hockey swing is similar to a golf swing and hockey jocks have excellent coordination. “I am the exception,” Bill avers modestly, “and I don’t have enough time for the game.”
But he does take time for his family, and he’s a very proud husband and parent. “Our children all are in Englewood, and they all are in business,” he says. “Our daughter Nicole is in the mortgage business, our son Justin is a doctor of physical therapy and has five clinics in the area, and our son Alec works for him as a PTA. My wonderful wife Carla is a realtor. She has a successful business called Stiver Firth International within the Remax Alliance Group, and she’s the hardest worker anyone ever met. She works 100 hours a week, and she loves her job. We’ve been through hard times and good times, and we’re still together, going strong after 44 years.”
If all of this sounds a lot like the American dream, maybe it is. Let’s hope they live happily ever after.
Dean Laux is exploring interesting folks living in our community. If you know of anyone with an interesting background please send an email to: tomnewton@englewodreview.com. Include the person’s name, contact info and give a brief description of the person’s background.

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