Stephen Marsh Straight, One of the Society’s Earliest Members, Passes Away

Stephen Marsh StraightThe Society’s oldest living member, Stephen Marsh Straight, passed away on January 28, 2015, in Deland, Florida. He was 97.

Mr. Straight was born in Connecticut, in 1918, the oldest son of Frank B. Straight, a farmer, and Annabelle Marsh Straight of Marbledale, CT. In 1940, Mr. Straight earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Connecticut.

Mr. Straight was a World War II veteran. On March 25, 1941, he enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army in Hartford, CT, and served until the end of the war. Details of his military service were unfortunately destroyed (along with 18 million service records) in a devastating fire at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in 1973.

Following the war, Mr. Straight spent 17 years of his professional career as the postmaster in Marbledale, Connecticut. In the 1950s, he began researching and writing articles for various trade magazines. And, in the late 1960s or early 1970s, he joined a newly chartered organization – the Pioneer America Society, which is better known today as the International Society for Landscape, Place, & Material Culture.

For at least three decades, Mr. Straight was an active member of the Society, faithfully attending the annual meetings and presenting his latest research on a wide variety of topics. A short list of his presentation titles include Aerodynamics in Vernacular Buildings, Armories, History of American Brick Work, Marble in Marble Dale, Connecticut, One Can Tell History by Quilts, Railroad Bridges When They Had Slim Girders or Beams, Ranch Houses, Scot Highlanders in the Cape Fear Region, and Stone Walls.

At the annual meeting in Bardstown, Kentucky, on October 19, 2001, the Society presented Mr. Straight with a special award of merit. The plaque, accompanying the award, read in part, that “an award of merit . . . is hereby presented to Mr. Stephen M. Straight in grateful recognition for his years of dedicated participation and his adherence to the principles and ideals of the Pioneer America Society.” In making the presentation, Michael Struble, a member of the Service Awards Committee at that time, noted that Mr. Straight was loyal in his attendance at annual meetings, was forthcoming in presenting papers at these meetings, and was an active participant on field trips.

However, Mr. Straight was not yet ready to retire from his active participation in the Society’s annual meetings in 2001. In fact, he continued to attend for another three years until Father Time finally caught up with him. His last meeting was the Buck County, PA Conference in 2004. Still, Mr. Straight continued to keep in touch with the Society’s former Executive Director, Artimus Keiffer, until Dr. Keiffer’s untimely death in 2011. And, when Society members, Alex and Noreen Bobersky, visited him at the Florida Lutheran Retirement Center in Deland, Florida, in the Fall of 2011, they reported spending a delightful afternoon with an alert and vigorous 93-year-old Mr. Straight.

Mr. Straight is buried in the Hollywood Cemetery in Volusia County, Florida.

For those Society members, who fondly recall him, Mr. Straight will be missed.

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