Thursday, November 19, 2015

Sheldon Lorenzo Stutz (11/10/1913-10/27/1988)

Sheldon L. Stutz was another one of the men that contributed much to our community.  His arrival in our town was not as early as many of the business leaders but that does not diminish his service, or his legacy.

A mailing to sent to all current and prospective clients by Stutz Fuel Oil Service

Unfortunately in the 27 years since his death his time in Gig Harbor has been overshadowed by the disarray and unkempt condition of his property on the corner of Soundview and west side of Harborview Drive across from The Tides.  

It is true that the Light Pole Park on the SW corner of Key Bank’s Property on Pioneer built by the members of the Gig Harbor Roatry Club and given to the City of Gig Harbor in 1998. This park was dedicated to him and to Galloping Gertie after his death in 1988.  Regrettably the information contained on the base entitled “The First Crossing” is not true.
This is the incorrect information, as explained below that we are working with the Gig Harbor Morning Rotary Club to correct

Cover of Program Dedication of Light Pole Park from HHM files
  • The Tacoma Narrows Bridge, known as Galloping Gertie, was not built in 1930.  The construction did not begin until 1938 so it would have been impossible to drive across it in 1930 on the way to deliver oil in Tacoma and then go to a Husky game at the University of Washington.
  • In 1930, Sheldon was a high school student in Pleasant Hill, Oregon, age 16 turning 17 in October of that year according to the 1930 US Census.
  • Following his high school graduation, Sheldon attended Wester Washington State College in Bellingham, WA where he received his Bachelor’s Degree.  He then enrolled in the University of Washington in Seattle and earned his Master’s Degree.
  • After graduation from university he taught school in PeEll and in Raymond, WA (According to 1940 US Census, he was in Raymond.)
  • Sheldon married  Betty (Elizabeth)and their first child, Del, was born in 1935.
  • Sheldon bought the Gig Harbor Shell Oil Distributorship facility from Harold Rehn in 1943.

I think it is important to bring this information to light based upon the numerous questions I have gotten from visitors and residents alike.  I have contacted the City of Gig Harbor regarding the misinformation and received the following reply:  “Thanks Tomi, I highly doubt anyone at the City fact-checked the information on the plaque when it was installed since the project was all through Rotary.  I’m glad you are in touch with Rotary since they are the ones who would need to change the information!”  I also contacted the Gig Harbor Morning Rotary Club who is also working towards correcting the plaque, and I received a note from their president on November 17, 2015, that their Community Service Team will start working on it immediately.  I’ll check back with them later this year.

Now that is out of the way, let’s concentrate on Sheldon and his contributions and leadership to our town.  Unfortunately my search revealed little, but what I found follows.

Sheldon was born in Farmington, Utah on November 10, 1913 but by the time he turned 6 the family moved to Heybrun, Idaho, and of course as we mentioned before, 10 years later the family was living in Pleasant Hill, Oregon.   

Sheldon had two brothers, Del LeGrand Stutz who was 2 years older and Rex L. Stutz, 5 years younger.  His father, Orson Stutz was a bricklayer in Oregon and his mother, Aurelia (Miller) Stutz was a home maker to the best of my knowledge.  Sheldon was the only member of his family to move from Oregon, first to continue his education, and then to live, teach school, and eventually own and operate a very successful business.

After high school graduation where “he excelled in academics and sports” according to his obituary, he left Pleasant Hill for Bellingham where he attended Western Washington State College (now Western Washington University).  After receiving his Bachelors Degree he attended the University of Washington (UW) where he earned his Masters.  While attending UW he taught school in Raymond and coached their basketball and baseball teams.

While a student he and Elizabeth (Betty) Hortense Holcomb (1918/2004) were married.  Elizabeth grew up in Eugene, Oregon, approximately 12 miles from Pleasant Hill and was living with her parents in 1935 before joining Sheldon in Raymond that same year..  They had two children, Linda Stutz Durham (1942-1969)  and Del L. Stutz (1935-present). 

In 1940s Sheldon moved his family to Gig Harbor, and in 1943 bought the Shell Oil Distributorship from Harold Rehn.  He owned and operated this distributorship and Stutz Fuel Oil until his his in 1988.

As well as his business operations, Sheldon served as Board member of the Peninsula Light Company for 25 years, and at the time of his death was the president.  He was also active in the Eagles Post #2809, and their first past president.  He was a past president of the Gig Harbor Lions Club, past master of John Paul Jones Lodge #271 and a member of Affifi Shrine Temple.
Obituary from Peninsula Gateway 

Obituary from Peninsula Gateway
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