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Trooper George Robinson Stratton, Jr.
Lieutenant - 1967
(Click on all pictures to enlarge)
George Robinson Stratton, Jr. was the best man I've ever known. After I became a police officer in 1997, I realized he is also the best law enforcement officer I've ever known. Thank you for reading my dedication to him.
If you are a family member or friend, I'm sure you'll remember how your life was enhanced by being a part of his.
If you're an officer, your time won't be wasted. I believe it will inspire you and renew your commitment to law enforcement service. You will see yourself in him because you cannot make this sacrifice without also possessing many of his highest attributes.
If you are retired, we do not want to lose you and you are not lost. You are neither forgotten, nor excluded from our lives or our ongoing task at hand. You built the bridge, forged the path, and lived your service to reveal to us the true meaning of loyal brotherhood through sacrificial commitment.
If you never knew him, you can still meet him, by shaking the hand of any committed Oklahoma Law Enforcement Officer. They possess and reflect his best attributes.
Graduation Picture - Senior '50
Roosevelt High School - Cedar Rapids, Iowa
He was born on March 12, 1932, in Iowa City, Iowa, later the oldest of four. His favorite sports were Football and Golf. He also loved to hunt, fish, and skate the Cedar River with his friends when it iced over. He grew up in his father's grocery business, liked country music, and loved to play the steel guitar. He was still a senior in high school in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, when his dad died, becoming head of the family.
#45 Split End - Roosevelt High School
Traveling - 1950
After graduating, the family decided to move to Enid, Oklahoma.
Wedding - 1952
Westminster Presbyterian Church - Enid, Oklahoma
After two years in Enid, Oklahoma, he met and married Ellen Louise "Bootsy" Bennett at 7:30 p.m. on August 12, 1952. They remained in love for 42 years of marriage until they died only four months apart in 1996, in Edmond, Oklahoma.
They are back together now, starting their forever on October 29, 1996.
Lana Renee Stratton
They also live on through their grandchildren, who they both loved as much as they loved each other.
Cara Christine Stratton
In Enid, he went to work as a Station Manager for Central Airlines (later merged with Frontier Airlines). He was a new husband with new responsibilities. He was doing well and intended to remain in the airline business . . .
Oklahoma Highway Patrol
From that experience, he walked into the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and told them he wanted to be a Trooper. He was told, "Sorry, you're not old enough yet." He asked, "Is there anything I can do?" They told him, "Yeah, you can be a dispatcher."
Oklahoma Highway Patrol
United States Army - 28 Field Artillery Batallion, Eighth Infantry Division
Specialist - Radio Corp
While dispatching, he was side-tracked from achieving his goal of becoming an Oklahoma State Trooper. He was inducted into the U.S. Army on September 25, 1955, completing all military service and being honorably discharged from all military obligations, including reserve service, on February 15, 1960.
United States Army - 1955-1957 He was very fortunate to serve his country in a peacetime post-war Germany. He was even able to see his wife while stationed there. He enjoyed the military, yet still never lost his law enforcement vision.
United States Army - Schwaebisch G'Münd, Germany, A.I. Their hair not combed in 8 days, dad referred to this picture of his life-long friends
Stoner, Dave Bremer, (him), Dana Wall, Morris, & Stephens as, "The Dirty Bunch."
Schwaebisch G'Münd, Germany Dad & Wall.
OHP Letter of Acceptance - May 23, 1958
After being discharged, he returned to Oklahoma, to his Wife, and to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. There he applied again to become a Trooper, now meeting the age and other requirements. He was accepted to the 15th Oklahoma Highway Patrol Academy, held in Norman, Oklahoma.
He entered as a Cadet . . .
. . . then graduated from the five-week, "15th Oklahoma Highway Patrol Institute."
He rolled hardest during the 60's. Yet I never heard my father make a derogatory racial slur in the 36 years I knew him. He never smoked and I rarely saw him drink. Nevertheless, I remember what he did drink in quantity --Maalox. He rarely told his department, "no" when they called on him.
He was working the day I was born. He was back working after only one day off, writing 9 warnings, 5 tickets, and making 2 arrests.
There was no, "Merit Protection Board;" There was no, "Fair Labor Standards Act." There was no time for, "extra jobs." Troopers worked according to the "needs of the department." Troopers' lives were scheduled around superior service to Citizens and devoted to the highest expectations of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
My mother never complained. When he would work the, "hoot owl shift" they would wake me up in the middle of the night to be together, usually to the smell of popcorn popping. He made sure that the necessary adjustments of being a Trooper with a family worked out just fine.
My dad loved everything about being in law enforcement. One of the most enjoyable things he did was attending the 1963 World's Fair in New York City, along with Governor Henry Bellmon, representing Troopers of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
The other was having the privilege of meeting John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States.
JFK died almost two years and six days from the date of this Trooper's Presidential Assignment, on November 22, 1963, 12:30 p.m., Dealy Plaza, Dallas, Texas.
It is always difficult for an officer to decide whether to remain at rank or become a supervisor.
It is an increase in opportunity, but also an increase in responsibility.
His first major special assignment as a Lieutenant, was upon being selected from a group of 369 candidates to attend the one-year Northwestern Traffic Institute in Chicago, Illinois. It is now known as, "Northwestern University Center for Public Safety." We moved from Broken Arrow to Chicago when I was seven. He loved attending school with officers from around the world. This is where he learned the art of investigating accidents.
When he returned to Oklahoma in 1968, Command assigned him to Troop A in Oklahoma City and put him at the Training Center with a man who would become his best friend, strongest supporter, and business partner upon retirement, Lieutenant George Moore. Together, these two men, as a team, raised the bar.
Any supervisory position is difficult. A supervisor has unavoidable divided loyalties. Loyalties to officers as well as loyalties to the department in applying rules, policies, and procedures fairly and courteously. What kind of supervisor was he? Would he still back you or put career ambition above his officer loyalty?
Training Center - Old Armory
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Major - 1972
But what about the George Stratton at home, no one else around. What was the standard?
One night when I was a teenager, my mother was returning to Edmond on Highway 412 from Enid on gravel, under construction. She had taken me and a couple of baseball buddies to swim in Enid with family. I can remember the conversation between her and the Trooper that had stopped her for speeding. He recognized her name and asked, "Are you Major Stratton's wife?" She said, "Yes, so I guess I should know better." He said, "I don't know what he would do if he found out I stopped you for speeding and didn't write you a ticket." The next night at the dinner table I asked my dad why he couldn't just take care of the ticket. He looked up and said, "Son, how do you expect me to enforce the law with the public, if I can't expect my own family to follow it?"
No, he was far from perfect, and some things during his command years irritated him. All the damage from the McAlester prison riot, with chandeliers in the penitentiary cells, was an example of one of them. He always wanted things to be better and to make them better, regardless of sacrifice. When he had the opportunity to make change, he advanced training and improved radio technology. He was constantly making an effort to advance his department and the rule of law.
Assistant Commissioner - July, 29, 1974
When Commissioner Roger Webb appointed him Assistant Commissioner, he recognized the attributes necessary for leadership, including both of their commitments to the Lord. That commitment gave my father an insight into law enforcement, law enforcement officers, and the community. The most difficult aspect of accepting the appointment was that he would have to resign being a trooper to fill the post.
If you don't have time to click on and read the whole article on the left, here's a quote:
"Today, law enforcement people have to handle the failures of the total behavior control process. That is, the behavior pattern which normally is established and firmed up on the home, the church and the school. There are some students of behavior who believe this trio have failed to build strong, stable behavior patterns among a majority and have dumped this failure in our lap, and this, a policeman believes, is unfair."
-George Stratton, Assistant Commissioner
When Roger Webb left OHP, Governor David Boren assigned the post of Commissioner to my father. He was now the only Trooper in the history of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol to go from Dispatcher in '52 to Commissioner in '78. The top article is from his first assignment as a trooper. The article to the left below was his final assignment.
In spite of his achievements and position, the death of Trooper Houston "Pappy" Summers, Lt. James Pat Grimes, and Trooper Billy G. Young, on May 26, 1978, during his watch, took its toll on him. Every Trooper backed him, but some in the media claimed the killed troopers were, "too old to be out on patrol." He was also criticized for them not being, "sufficiently armed with automatic weapons." He accepted the blame. OHP Troopers now carry rifles. However, many municipal departments still preclude issuance of them over 25 years later, except for their T.A.C.T. teams.
He kept many mementos. However, I never found anything regarding the death of his three brothers. Likely because he always saw them daily in the mirror and never got over it. We never spoke of it.
However, his true friends remained loyal, even upon his retirement --even to the end.
I love and miss you dad.
If I had two lives, and two law enforcement careers, I couldn't even come close to matching you.