Jul 12, 2021 8:38 PM

Bill Sinclaire.
Dedicated to the well-being of the sport, Bill Sinclaire served in multiple capacities of USPA leadership including Chairman, President, Vice President and Treasurer.

Known for being a great ambassador for the sport throughout his life, William “Bill” Sinclaire passed away on his ranch in Sedalia, Colorado, on Wednesday, June 30, at the age of 92. Born on November 19, 1928, in Corning, New York, Bill was a member of the USPA for over 65 years, during that time an active USPA Executive for 15 years. Known by his friends for his sensitivity and kindness, Bill was a modest man of great integrity.

Suffering from childhood asthma, Bill was sent to the Arizona Desert School in Tucson, Arizona, where he discovered his life-long passion for polo. Graduating from the University of Arizona in 1952, Bill married Joanne Wray Sinclaire and moved to his family’s S-Spear Ranch in the Plum Creek Valley near Sedalia. Under the Sinclaire Cattle Company, Bill managed a wide-ranging cattle operation, including a well-regarded registered Angus herd. He was also a frequent exhibitor at the National Western Stock Show and served at length on its Board of Directors.

Involved in all aspects of USPA leadership in the 1970s and 80s, Bill served as Chairman (1980-1984), President (1976-1980), Vice President (1973-1976), Treasurer (1971-1973) and on the Board of Governors for five years. “Bill was a great friend of my parents,” said USPA Chairman Stewart Armstrong. “He was someone they admired a great deal and of whom they always spoke highly. I knew him only casually but respected his selfless contributions to polo as Chairman and more importantly in all of his roles within the USPA throughout his lifetime. He is a credit to the sport of polo.” Treating everyone he encountered with the same level of respect regardless of their status, Bill was known for being a fair and unbiased administrator who was dedicated to the well-being of the sport.

Reviving polo in the Rocky Mountains following World War II, Bill built a polo field on his ranch south of Denver, Colorado, and organized local ranchers and horsemen into polo teams. His decades-long involvement with clubs in the Denver area—along with his participation in high-goal polo at Oak Brook Polo Club (Oak Brook, Illinois)—gave Bill a unique perspective on the needs of players and clubs across the United States. “I played in one high-goal tournament in Chicago and Bill was also there playing in another tournament,” said USPA Secretary Charles Smith. “I was short on horses so he loaned me his best horse. That is an example of what type of person he was, willing to help out in any way he could.”

Involved in all aspects of USPA leadership in the 1970s and 80s, Bill served as Chairman (1980-1984), President (1976-1980), Vice President (1973-1976), Treasurer (1971-1973) and on the Board of Governors for five years.
Retiring from playing polo at 65, Bill Sinclaire played across the United States as well as Mexico and Argentina.

Despite having impaired vision, Bill played polo across the country and in Mexico and Argentina. He competed in the General Manuel Avila Camacho Cup in 1975 and scored the winning goal for the United States in the third game. He also claimed the Butler Handicap® with Tulsa (William Sinclaire, Thomas Wayman, Bart Evans, John C. Oxley) the following year. Honored for his sportsmanlike conduct on the field, Bill was the recipient of the Hugo Dalmar Trophy in 1989.

Inducted into the Museum of Polo Hall of Fame in 2007, Bill also served as a member of the Hall of Fame Nominating Committee and Selection Committee. “We are proud to have known Bill and to have been able to work with him,” said Executive Director George J. DuPont Jr. and Director of Development Brenda Lynn in a joint statement. “The Museum benefitted greatly from his wisdom and guidance.” A significant sponsor of the Culver Academies in Culver, Indiana, Bill was also previously inducted into the Culver Academies Horsemanship Hall of Fame in 2003.

U.S. Open® Winners: Retama 1982- Steve Gose, Memo Gracida, Joanne Sinclaire, William Sinclaire, Carlos Gracida and Ruben Gracida. ©USPA Press File
1982 U.S. Open Polo Championship® winners: Retama (L to R) Steve Gose, Memo Gracida, Joanne Sinclaire, USPA Chairman William Sinclaire, Carlos Gracida and Ruben Gracida.

Retiring from playing polo at 65, Bill was an avid fly fisherman, fishing all over the world including Chile, Argentina and Alaska. He could be found as early as February fishing the South Platte River on the grounds of the Wigwam Club, where he was a much-beloved member and contributor since 1976. He caught steelhead in British Columbia, Canada, sea-run brown trout in Tierra del Fuego in Argentina, Atlantic salmon in arctic Russia and taimen in Mongolia. Fishing into his nineties, Bill was known by guides on four continents as a “fishy guy,” a term of considerable esteem.

An outdoorsman at heart and committed to preserving natural lands, Bill and his wife Joanne were very active in the Central Colorado Conservancy. Dedicated to public service and his local community, he served on the Douglas County School Board, the Douglas County Cattlemen’s Association, the Douglas County Planning Commission and the Board of Directors of the Colorado Museum of Natural History. Bill also served as a director of the Berger Fund, a successful Denver-based money management firm.

Bill is survived by his wife Joanne, sister Helen Sinclaire Blythe, daughter Catherine Brooks, son William Lincoln Sinclaire and his grandson William Sinclaire Brooks.

Donations in his memory may be made to the Polo Training Foundation, St. Philip-in-the-Field Episcopal Church and the National Western Stock Show capital campaign. An outdoor, socially-distanced memorial mass will be celebrated on Wednesday, July 14 at St. Phillip in the Field Episcopal Church in Sedalia, Colorado.

All photos courtesy of ©Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame