|Birth: ||Sep. 12, 1908|
|Death: ||Jan. 9, 1989|
Services for James Curtis Stratton, dubbed "Mr. Fine Arts of Stillwater", revered Oklahoma State University professor and citizen extraordinaire, will be at 2:30 p.m. Monday at St. Andrews Episcopal Church with Father Robert Fellows, rector, officiating.
He died Monday, Jan. 9, 1989, at St. Francis Hospital. Interment will be in Roselawn Cemetery in Pueblo, Colo.
Friends may call at Strode Funeral Home until noon Monday.
Pallbearers will be James R. Bellatti, Peyton Glass, Harry Heath, Robert McCulloh, D. Earl Newsom and Jerry Ward.
It has been suggested memorials go to the James C. Stratton Scholarship fund, School of Journalism and Broadcasting at OSU.
A reception for friends will follow the service in the church.
Stratton, was was known for his long tenure as a fine arts reviewer, columnist and classical and jazz music program director, was born Sept. 12, 1908, in Pueblo, the son of James Pennington and Georgia Alice (Curtis) Stratton.
He came to Stillwater and OSU in 1946 as an assistant professor in the department of technical journalism.
Stratton's teaching career at OSU spanned a 27-year period.
Professor Stratton's interest in journalism, the theater and the arts began at an early age.
"I can't remember when I wasn't interested," he said in a 1971 interview when he was honored as "Mr. Fine Arts" by OSU.
"The manager of the Grand Opera House in Pueblo was a friend of the family when I was a boy," he said. "I was just wild about the theater, and father was a great vaudeville buff. We also had a resident stock company in Pueblo, and I must have seen 100 Sunday matinees by the time I was a junior in high school."
His first stint at reviewing fine arts came when he was a journalism student at the University of Colorado and wrote for the Silver and Gold and later for the Boulder Camera.
He was graduated cum laude from the University of Colorado in 1931, and began a teaching career in high school where student publications, under his direction, were among the top in the state and region.
During his early teaching career at OSU he continued his work in scholastic journalism and developed a national reputation as one of the top educators in the field.
He worked for a number of years with high school workshops in journalism at Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., the University of Colorado, and among Oklahoma colleges and universities.
Stratton's interest in teaching led him to Northwestern, where he earned the master's degree in 1940, and later that year he joined the faculty as a supply journalism teacher at the University of Wyoming in Laramie.
While in Wyoming he worked nights as telegraph editor for the Laramie newspapers, and it was there that his fine arts reviewing began in earnest.
"I thought something should be written about the university stage productions, and I also started doing pieces about music," he said in a recent interview. "That's when I began a regular routine of reviewing."
When Stratton came to Stillwater he asked the late C.R. Belatti of the New-Press about writing reviews and found him receptive, and thus was launched a 42-year community culture awareness program. At the time of his death he was Fine Arts Editor for the News-Press.
That awareness program begun with the News-Press, branched to the Tulsa and Oklahoma City newspapers, to the Oklahoma Symphony program guides, to the OSU Allied Arts and to radio stations KSPI and KOSU in Stillwater.
In 1952 he began his "Collector's Corner" radio show of classical music on KSPI and logged more than 1,000 hours in the program that was popular with music lovers in Payne County.
In addition he spent a dozen years with a jazz radio program, sometimes six nights a week, and in later years he took his love of jazz to the National Public Radio station on the OSU campus. He continued this program through December 1988.
In 1984 the Arts Council of Oklahoma presented him the Governor's Art Award for community service.
Former first lady Donna Nigh said the award was presented for his long-running programs on KSPI and KOSU, along with his work for Town and Gown, the Oklahoma City Symphony Orchestra, Tulsa Ballet and Opera and theaters across the state.
Even though his pen has been known to point out obvious weaknesses in a number of local programs, he said in 1971, "Criticism hasn't been my goal at all---I've tried to create interest and extend the box office. I've tried to influence people to attend who normally wouldn't go."
Stratton's interest in public education for the arts led him to join a group of local theater devotees in forming the Town and Gown Community Theater in the 1950s.
His contributions to the local theater included promotion, program production, publicity, reviews and numerous behind-the-scenes and on-stage roles.
In addition to his work with Town and Gown and other cultural programs in Stillwater, Stratton was a long-time member and served in numerous offices in the Stillwater Evening Lions Club, the Payne County Press Club, Society of Professional Journalists/Sigma Delta Chi, Friends of Music and Allied Arts.
He was a member of St. Andrews.
Stratton was an only child, never married and has been predeceased by his parents.
(Published in the Stillwater News-Press, January 13, 1989)
James Pennington Stratton (1870 - 1933)
Georgia Alice Curtis Stratton (1878 - 1957)
Created by: N. Dale Talkington
Record added: Apr 25, 2013
Find A Grave Memorial# 109386391