Merry Christmas 2021

As has become a tradition around here, we present you with Tom Willhite as Santa Claus. DE Buff Groth is asking for gifts!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!

Tom Willhite as Santa Claus at a Council Christmas party; 1980 Parnell Camp Director Buff Groth on his lap

From the Archives, November 21, 2021

Namesakes: The Stanfords

The Don Stanford Chapel is well known. Built in 1964, it was, for a long time, the only building on the backside of the reservation. Before Camp Craig, everything on the other side of Parnell Bay was Camp Light. A gravel road led to Duck Head and up on the hill, all by itself, stood the Chapel, in a place of reverence and solitude. But today, surrounded by Camp Craig, the Chapel is something of a mystery to most in terms of who the Chapel was named for and why that mattered.

Robert Donnell “Don” Stanford, III was an Eagle Scout. He was a member of Troop 1 in Brentwood and active youth. He attended the International Scout Jamboree in Sutton, England in 1957 and served youth governor for an hour as part of Citizenship Day in March 1958. Unfortunately, sometime around the end of the year, the 17 year old Stanford ill. He suffered for two weeks with an unspecified “incurable illness” and passed away on January 11, 1959 at St. Thomas Hospital.

The idea for the chapel was born from Stanford’s Scout troop and made possible by his father, Robert Donnell Stanford, Jr. Robert Stanford was a member of the Executive Board. Indeed, over the years of his involvement with the Council, Robert Stanford was a District Chairman, a member of the Region V Executive Committee, Council President from 1970-1971, and a recipient of both the Silver Beaver and the Silver Antelope. That was just his Scouting career. In his non-Scouting life, Stanford was a Vanderbilt graduate, partner in Donelson Lumber Company, president of the Bank of Donelson, president of WSIX and president of advertising agency. He was involved with the First Presbyterian Church, the Tennessee Botanical Gardens, and Cheekwood. Born in 1913, Stanford passed away in 1979 at the age of 66.

The Chapel today is a memorial to both Stanfords. Named for Don Stanford and complete with a display of his Scouting awards, there is also a display for Robert Stanford, acknowledging his contributions to the Council. Thus, the Chapel is a memorial not to one Scout, but to a family legacy.

Robert Standford, Council President
Robert Stanford, Council President, 1970-1971. Official Council Portrait

On This Day, November 11

On this day–Tuesday, November 11, 1980–the Nashville Banner reported that the the Nashville Scottish Rite Foundation donated the funds for three flag poles for Boxwell Reservation the week before. The Foundation had previously donated the flag poles at the Jet Potter Center in 1977. Cost for the poles was approximately $6000. These are the flag poles at the top of the hill across from the Cripple Crab. When erected, a time capsule was inserted into the stone wall that accompanied the poles.

The three flag poles at the top of the hill. The poles were donated in 1980. This photo is from 1995.

On this day–Thursday, November 11, 2004–the great Pearl Schleicher passed away. A cook in the Wilson County Public School system, Schleicher had been a fixture at Boxwell for decades. She started in 1962 as the camp cook and ended her run after the 1994 season. Her sister Estelle accompanied her most of these years and her husband John joined the two toward the end of their run. They made virtually everything from scratch and were staples of camp life. Estelle had died in August 2004 and John had passed March 2002. Pearl’s death closed a chapter on Boxwell history. She was 95 years old.

Pearl and John Schleicher in the Stahlman Kitchen, likely the early 1970s. The one member of the “team” not pictured is “Ms. Bea,” Pearl’s sister.

On this day–Monday, November 11, 2013–former Council Executive E. L. “Hershel” Tolbert passed away. A World War II vet, Tolbert served in the Navy and saw combat in the Pacific theater, including Guam, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. In 1953, Tolbert started in professional Scouting under the tutelage of Ward Akers before securing his own council in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He returned to the Middle Tennessee Council in 1976, following the resignation of his mentor. He remained Council Executive until 1991, when he retired, ending a 38 year career with the Boy Scouts of America.

Connelly Tolbert Willhite
Ken Connelly, Hershel Tolbert, and Tom Willhite, sometime in the late 1970s or early 1980s.

On This Day, October 31

On this day–Friday, October 31, 2008–Howard B. Olson passed away. Olson was the Lodge Advisor for the Wa-Hi-Nasa #111 from 1978 to 1982, but his influence far outweighed these five years of service. Olson is credited with developing the strong relationship between the Council and the Lodge. The Lodge began holding “tap out” events on Wednesday nights during camp and then cracker barrels. The Lodge served a greater role at Jamborees and with camp promotion. Several work days at Boxwell were held as well. And of course, Olson’s leadership inspired a generation of younger men, many of whom are important contributors to the Council today. Olson’s influence was deemed so great that in 1993 the OA Lodge was rededicated as the Howard Olson OA Lodge. Olson’s impact on the modern Lodge cannot be overstated.

Olson was an Eagle Scout and graduated Hillsboro High School in 1946. He graduated from Vanderbilt and upon graduation enlisted in the Marines as a 2nd Lieutenant. He was a financial consultant for 40 years in his non-Scouting life. He earned the Silver Buffalo, the Silver Antelope, and the Distinguished Service Award. Though diagnosed with MS in 1955, he never let him slow him down.

Services were held at 3pm on Monday, November 3 at Woodlawn Memorial Park. Active Pallbearers included Derrick Olson, David Garrett, Chris Snoddy, Craig Salazar, Hugh Travis and Richard Hill. Olson was 80 years old.

This, unfortunately, is the best photo we have of Olson. We would welcome others.

Howard Olson and others
Howard Olson (standing) at an OA event at Boxwell, late 1970s.