Mike Stroud: SC Picture Project Photographer

South Carolina SC Picture Project Mike Stroud

The Man Behind the Lens ...

In honor of Michael Author Stroud, 1944-2013

Michael Stroud may not have hailed from South Carolina originally, but once he arrived, he become nothing short of a blessing for our state.

Mike and his wife, Linda, moved from Maryland to Sun City in Bluffton in 2004. Like so many others, they had retired and wanted to leave snowy winters behind. Mike was not a man to idle away his new freedom, however. In the nine years between 2004 and his death in 2013, Mike became a veritable connoisseur of South Carolina's history – an expert and an avid traveler who did as much to document the historic sites in our state as any other person ever has.

Mike became involved with a website called the Historical Marker Database, which, much like the South Carolina Picture Project, seeks to preserve images of historic landmarks. The database focuses exclusively on historical markers, those signs that you see on the side of the road but only rarely stop to read. Well, it turns out those signs often tell some pretty interesting stories, and Mike made it his mission to document every one he could find!

Mike was born with a generous heart – in fact one of the most generous we've ever encountered – and he never hesitated to share with us anything we needed. As a result, the South Carolina Picture Project is much richer than it would otherwise have been. Although Mike may no longer be physically present, his spirit lives on, and each day Kerri and I remain deeply grateful for his life, his work, his passion, and his kindness.

MIKE'S PHOTOS:  SC Picture Project

CONTACT INFO:  If you have questions about Mike's work, please contact us at service@sciway.net and we will forward your email to his wife, Linda.

Mike According to the Woman Who Knew Him Best ...

When we learned of Mike's passing, we asked his wife Linda if she would allow us to make a tribute page for him. Not only did she say yes, she also took the time to answer our many questions – a task none too easy given her grief. We are thankful to her and delighted to be able to honor Mike in this way. Thank you, Mrs. Stroud!

Please tell us about Mike's hometown and where you spent your life together.  Mike was born in Cheverly, Maryland and grew up in Maryland. He graduated from Wheaton High School, in Wheaton, Maryland. After graduation Mike enlisted in the Air Force and spent four years in Rapid City, South Dakota. When his service time was up he came back to the Maryland area to live. Mike and I were both living in Rockville, Maryland when we met in 1973.

Please tell us about your family.  As I said above, Mike and I met in 1973. Mike had a son, Brian, from a previous marriage, and I had a daughter, Becky, from a previous marriage. Mike and I married in 1980 and in the early 80s Brian came to live with us in Rockville and Mike adopted my daughter, Becky, so we truly became a melded family. Mike and I raised our family and enjoyed life in the Rockville area until 2004 when we moved to Sun City in Bluffton, South Carolina. By this time Brian was raising his family in Florida and Becky was living in Texas. Brian and our four grandchildren are still in Florida, and Becky has since moved to Charleston, SC.

Where did Mike work?  Mike had hired on with Western Electric right out of high school (1962) while he waited for his swearing in with the US Air Force. When he returned to Maryland after his service he was able to continue his job with Western Electric. His job was installation and wiring of the equipment that is located in the large exchanges housing the core of the phone systems. Over the years Western Electric became part of AT&T and then part of Lucent Technologies. Just at the time Mike was retiring, after 40 years of service, the company became Alcatel Lucent. Mike spent a great many of his 40 years with the company working nights in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.

Did he have any hobbies (including and outside of photography) or volunteer work he enjoyed?  While we were raising our family and Mike was working, his free time was spent soaking up everything he could about history. He was especially focused on the Civil War era and would make many trips to the local battlefields. We even split our honeymoon time between some beach time and some time touring Civil War battlefields. Mike enjoyed doing home projects – for the most part – and was always involved in photography. In addition we both enjoyed taking road trips to see the United States. Over our years together we managed to make trips to all 50 states and return to some of our favorites a few times. When we made our move to South Carolina he was able to spend even more time exploring and enjoying his photography. He signed up with a website that focused on historical markers and spent many weekends searching out the markers, taking photographs and posting them and information about them on this website. The model railroaders club here in Sun City was his new "job." He spent many hours working on the layout and enjoying the friendships that grew from knowing fellow model railroaders.

Did Mike have a favorite quote or a book or movie that was extra special to him?  Mike was not an avid reader unless it was history related and he enjoyed a wide range of movies. Some of his favorite moves ranged from American Graffiti to Goonies to Stalag 17 and The Great Escape. He always enjoyed James Bond and John Wayne movies too.

What was Mike's very favorite place in South Carolina? Where did he most love to spend his time?  This is a tough one – Mike loved being down here and it was nothing for him to take a Sunday drive and end up in Aiken or Sumter. I think he truly enjoyed the entire state.

Was there anything about living in South Carolina and the South that he especially loved? A food, a funny saying, a part of history that was sacred to him?  I think Mike loved being here in general. He loved having a new place to call home and to learn about and explore. I think one of his favorite restaurants was Dukes in Ridgeland, SC where he became a fan of okra. His favorite spot in Okatie was The Lunch Lady where he developed a fondness for grits and became good friends with the owners, Mindy and Brandon. (See photo at the top; this is Mike at a surprise breakfast at The Lunch Lady on his last birthday, November 16, 2013.) In general, Mike loved the friendliness of the people in the area as well as the relaxed pace. I don't think he ever thought twice about having made the move from Maryland to South Carolina.

Is there anything else you would like to say or remember about Mike, something you'd like to share with people so that it becomes part of his legacy?  This is another tough question to answer without getting emotional and sentimental. Mike had a wonderful sense of humor and loved to chat with anyone. Let me just say that one thing I hear consistently when his family, friends and neighbors talk about missing him is their remarks about what a great guy he was and how much they always enjoyed talking to him because he would talk about anything – really – you name a topic and he would enjoy a conversation with whoever was around.

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