October 24, 2012 Edition

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Tolsons served quietly
and in many ways

John Bland

Giving back to one's community has become a popular, almost over-used expression. Yet, before it was a popular expression, some people, such as Bill and Tommie Tolson of Walnut Ridge, were quietly giving back by serving many people in the county.

Bill Tolson, age 87, died last Wednesday, and his wife, Tommie, has been very ill. Even in his early 80s, Bill continued to serve his community as president of the Lawrence County Resource Council.

Bill and Tommie observed their 66th wedding anniversary earlier this month. Tommie Stubblefield, who grew up near Pocahontas, first met Bill on a blind date. Their courtship was interrupted by a draft notice calling Bill to serve during World War II, according to a 2009 TD feature written by Frank M. Witowski Jr.

Bill was in the 3rd Battalion, 22nd regiment, 6th Marine Division, and much of his company was depleted in the battle at Sugar Loaf Hill, near Okinawa, Japan.

After Bill received his honorable discharge in August 1946, the couple married on his 23rd birthday, Oct. 5, 1946. After the war, Bill and his brother, the late Bud Tolson, continued working at their dad's GMC dealership until Bill retired from there in 1984, according to The TD feature.

Bill was active in many capacities at First Baptist Church, including serving as a trustee, deacon and volunteer church custodian. He was also active in the Gideons organization that distributes Bibles around the globe.

Bill's youngest son, Phillip, said both his parents were great role models to follow. "He taught us about work ethics through his actions," Phillip said in The TD feature. "He supported us and was always there for us. He exemplifies that through his life. If he taught it to us, he showed it to us through his life and never varied."

In 1987, Bill and Tommie became charter members of the Lawrence County Resource Council. Among the projects of that organization were providing food on an emergency basis to residents, coordinating a meals on wheels program and Senior Pak program and coordinating the Single Parent Scholarship program.

"People in Lawrence County don't realize just how much Bill Tolson does to benefit this community and the needy citizens who seek help," said Judy Videll in 2009, when she served as Lawrence County Resource Council treasurer.

He will be missed.

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