Sterling Ranch is a thriving master-planned community in Colorado’s coveted Douglas County. Many Coloradans call this special place home . . . and many more will come. Today, we honor Joy Burns, a woman who was instrumental in the creation of Sterling Ranch.
Rooted in family and innovation
Our community wouldn’t exist if not for the Burns family. When the last Sterling family member died in the late 1970s, Joy and Frank Burns purchased Sterling Ranch from a Denver bank, adding to their extensive real estate holdings. Joy and Frank had planned to use water from the Two Forks project for Sterling Ranch, but when that project was canceled, they had to reimagine their investment.
Unfortunately, Frank passed away in the late 1990s. Many people (and banks!) tried to buy Sterling Ranch, but it was not for sale. Joy wanted it to become a community that would honor her and Frank’s vision.
A 21st-century community
Enter Diane and Harold Smethills. They had known Joy and Frank for many years — the Burnses had even attended their wedding. Diane approached Joy to see if she’d sell Sterling Ranch as the foundation for an innovative, smart sustainable community.
Joy was excited to hear about Diane’s vision and even more thrilled to discover how closely this vision matched what she and Frank had in mind for Sterling Ranch. So, she agreed to sell! Through the years, Joy remained a close friend, an advisor and the Smethills’ biggest supporter.
Thank you, Joy Burns
On Friday, July 27, Joy Steelman Burns passed away. Her life’s accomplishments and meaningful contributions were extensive. She was the first woman to lead the board of the University of Denver, founder of the Woman’s Bank, chair of the Stadium Commission, visionary of the Burnsley Hotel, founder of the Burns School at the University of Denver and so much more. Joy opened so many doors, particularly for sports and young women. Together with her husband, Frank, she was instrumental in defining Denver, particularly Sterling Ranch.
From Harold and Diane Smethills, Sterling Ranch founders
Very few times in life do you meet people who care deeply about a community and are concerned about how their actions define it and the legacy they leave. Joy and Frank were those kinds of people. They lived life with happiness and genuine caring for others and gained energy from building and creating new concepts.
Because Joy blazed trails for so many young women and was an outspoken advocate for recreation and sports, we have named the expansive ridgetop land in Sterling Ranch “Burns Park.” Not long before her death, Joy spoke openly to many in Denver that Sterling Ranch was the real estate investment for which she was most proud. We shall miss her greatly.
Her legacy gives greater meaning to our credo:
Joy Resides Here.