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Subject: Wilfred C. Stroud, 77; Founded Chain Selling Linens for the Home

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Date Posted: April 16, 2003 5:07:38 EDT

Wilfred C. "Bill" Stroud, who created the Los Angeles-based bed, bath and table linens company that bears his name, has died. He was 77.

Stroud died Thursday of congestive heart failure in Arcadia. He had been in failing health because of emphysema, said his son Jeff, senior vice president of store operations and marketing for Strouds.

After suffering a heart attack in 1987, Stroud created the Strouds/American Heart Assn. Golf, Tennis and Fly-fishing Classic, which had raised $2 million for heart research by the time he retired as chairman in 1999.

Stroud financed his first niche store in Pasadena in 1979 by investing his pension from a 23-year career at Broadway Department Stores and taking a second mortgage on his San Marino home. By the time he stepped down from active management 20 years later, he had taken his company public and had built it into the third-largest bed and bath specialty chain in the nation with 65 stores in several states.

Always an innovator, Stroud first emphasized low prices, then added top-quality products, wider selection and well-trained salespeople he called "linen experts." Later he experimented with both large-format stores and smaller outlet stores to sell unmatched sets of linens and other slow-moving merchandise.

In 2000, with strong competition from mass marketers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the company went through bankruptcy protection restructuring. Jeff Stroud said the chain has 48 stores in California, Nevada, Arizona and Minnesota.

A native of Portland, Ore., Stroud served in the Navy as a communications officer, then graduated from the University of Oregon in 1947. He earned a master's degree in retailing from New York University.

He began his retail career as a sporting goods buyer for Bloomingdale's in New York City and came to Los Angeles to work for Broadway in 1956.

Stroud is survived by his wife, Joyce; daughter, Kathie of Los Gatos; two sons, Stephen of Santa Monica and Jeff of La Canada-Flintridge; and six grandchildren.

Services are scheduled at 11:30 a.m. today at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale.

The family suggests that a donation be made to the American Heart Assn.

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