Stratford Tolson’s family held a celebration at Title VI at the regular Pawhuska Rotary Club meeting on Feb. 21 for his 95th birthday, which is March 1.
His children, Lynn Fuente, a retired microbiologist in Tulsa, who is active in several charities, and Lance Stratford Tolson, who lives in Houston where he is an environmental attorney, spoke about Tolson’s life, and paid for the lunches of all attendees. Every chair, at every table, was full as Rotarians, their spouses, and friends gathered to celebrate the man, known as Strat, whom they all admire so much.
His daughter, Lynn Fuente said that although Stratford is an OU fan, he has supported any school where her daughter, Jamie Fuente Boyd, and son, Justin Fuente attended.
Lynn Fuente shared that her son, Justin Fuente is the head football coach in Virginia and said, “I hope OU never plays Virginia Tech. If so, papa’s going to have a really hard time!
“The devotion he’s given to schools, he’s also given to Rotary,” Fuente said. “I don’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t know about Rotary … I know he was excited when he was named a Paul Harris Fellow … I think it’s fair for me to say that he’s the oldest active Rotarian.”
Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Joni Nash and City Manager Mike McCartney gave Stratford Tolson a framed proclamation for his lifetime of contribution as a business and community leader.
Lance Tolson then shared details of Strat Tolson’s community contributions as a past president of the Pawhuska Rotary Club and a member for more than 60 years, former (longtime) treasurer of the Osage County Cattlemen’s Association, former senior warden of the parish at St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church in Pawhuska, where he’s been a member for over 90 years, former chairman and current director of the Pawhuska Educational Trust, and a past commander of American Legion Post 97, where he’s been a member for over 70 years.
Stratford Tolson will soon celebrate his 68tj wedding anniversary with his wife, Eleanor “Bobbie” Tolson.
Rotarian Jack Shoemate added Tolson had also been on the first board of directors of the Osage County Historical Society Museum. Another Rotarian mentioned his military service, where Strat Tolson served for five years.
“That kind of dedication to the community is something that is consistent with this club,” Lance Tolson said.
Stratford Tolson responded by saying, “I’m just overwhelmed, frankly … I’ve been a member of this Rotary Club for 65 years. I put pencil to it and I’ve attended 2,800 of these Rotary lunches. I have sang America and eaten more chicken than anyone in Osage County!”
Describing the Pawhuska Rotary Club as the friendliest group Rotary has ever had, Stratford Tolson said, “I enjoy coming and that’s why I wanted to share my birthday with you.”
Stratford Tolson shared that 18 months after he married, he was called back into active duty in the Korean War.
“I was captain in the artillery … Lynn was about three months old … I’m sure those two years were hard for them … after that things appeared to be really good.”
He concluded by saying, “I worried for the last week. I’ve lost most of my contemporaries … coming over here, I told Bobbie, I hope we’re not the only people there!”
He thanked Steve Tolson for emceeing, and Rotary President Eddy Red Eagle for setting up the celebration.
Concluding, Stratford Tolson said, “Next stop I’m going for 100 and we’ll have another party!”