By John Filonow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Roy Sturgeon has been leading the Pledge of Allegiance since 1998 for the Payne County Commissioners’ meeting because he enjoys it, he said.
“If you don’t enjoy your work, you shouldn’t do it,” he said.
He is 88 and retired, and is going to have to retire from leading the pledge one of these days, he said.
Sturgeon said former County Commissioner Gloria Hesser asked the American Legion to provide people to lead the pledge and he’s been involved with it since.
Lawrence Roy, post-adjutant of American Legion Post 129 in Stillwater, said Sturgeon is the only member doing a regularly scheduled flag presentation, though the American Legion does flag presentations on Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day. Sturgeon has been active in all the flag presentations the Legion does and has been in the Legion for 23 years, Roy said.
Sturgeon said he felt obligated to lead the pledge because of his military experience. He served in the Air Force in World War II for 2 1/2 years starting in 1943, he said.
“I consider it part of the contribution in my life,” Sturgeon said.
After returning from military service, he farmed until 1956, when he joined the National Guard and came back to Stillwater to support his wife and two kids, he said.
He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Oklahoma State University and his doctorate from the University of Minnesota in 1967, Sturgeon said. He retired in 1986, he said, after working in Oklahoma State University’s Plant Pathology Department.
American Legion member Karl Oltmanns said he has led the salute at the commission meetings when Sturgeon was unable. Sturgeon helped with flag presentations for soldiers’ funerals, Oltmanns said.
“He’s a good man, he represents the Legion, he’s always helped with the flag at the cemetery,” Oltmanns said.
Sturgeon has been involved with selling poppies each year for the Legion, and sells them at the Payne County Courthouse. The poppy program helps to assist veterans and families of veterans, Roy said.
County Treasurer Bonita Stadler, who has worked for the county for 25 years, said Sturgeon is a dedicated man, who has never failed to show up to the courthouse each year to sell the poppies.
“He’s always been faithful,” Stadler said. “He’s been a very dedicated man.”