Monday, January 3, 2011

A sad way to start the new year

Goodbye Uncle Dale. You will be missed.

Started of the new year on a sad note. While visiting with my Dad this past Saturday, January 1st, he received a call from his younger sister, Leveta, to tell him that their brother, W. Dale Stone, had passed away that afternoon. Of the original eight kids in his family only he and Leveta are left. Dad was the sixth child born followed by Dale and then Leveta. Here is the last picture of all eight of them together, taken at my folks house when they lived on the farm at Stratford, Oklahoma, in the 1980's. From the far right, in order by their age, are Maude, Esther, Pauline, Delmer, Lucille, George (my Dad), Dale and Leveta.

Dale was always the character in the family. He loved country music and he loved people. He made his living for most of his life by selling life insurance. He was an unbelievable salesman and made a good living in this endeavor. Prior to that he was a Boy Scout. Actually he was employed by the Boy Scouts of America. After he retired from the insurance business he started a tour company out of Ardmore, Oklahoma. He arranged tours to places such as Branson, Missouri, and Nashville, Tennessee. He did some tours to other locals but Branson and Nashville were his "bread and butter". His tours were great because he took care of everything from the transportation, hotels, show tickets and restaurant stops. Joanne and I were fortunate to make both a Branson and a Nashville trip with him. To keep the bus load of tour members from getting bored while traveling he would entertain by singing, leading the group in songs and his signature yodeling. He could yodel right along with the best of them. Also due to his tour business he met many celebrities over the years. On our trip to Nashville he introduced us to several including Little Jimmie Dickens. Here he is pictured with Bob Hope and George "Goober" Lindsay.

Like all his siblings he grew up on the family farm near Byars, Oklahoma. My grandfather farmed for many years and all the kids had to help work the place, including the five girls. The first six children were born between a year and 18 months apart. There were a few years difference between them and the last two. After my Dad got married and moved away Papa Stone elected to give up the farm and moved into Byars. When World War II came along Uncle Dale was drafted into the Navy. He used to tell the story that he was at the induction center in Oklahoma City in a whole line of men in alphabetical order. The official went down the line pointing at each man and designating which service the person would be going to. Out of the entire line all but two were sent to the Army. Uncle Dale, being a bit smaller than the rest, was one of the two sent to the Navy. He said he was really relieved when he heard Navy. This picture was taken in August 1945.

Uncle Dale was my last Uncle left, including the spouses of my parents brothers and sisters. He was always the one to step up and entertain any group he was with. He will be sorely missed by everyone who ever knew him. He lost his wife, Jo, back in the 1970's. Although he dated other women over the years and even remarried a couple of times none of them lasted long. He always said he would never find another one like Aunt Jo. No one else would ever measure up to her in his eyes. He leaves behind two sons, Dennis Dale and Scott and their families. Rest in peace my great Uncle. This picture was taken in the summer of 2009 at our bi-annual family reunion in Byars.