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In Loving Memory of George C.D Tollefson (1931-2020)

Posted By Administration, Thursday, June 25, 2020
We offer our condolences to the family and colleagues of the Rev. George “Pete” C. B. Tolleson, who died on May 1, 2020, at the age of 88.

Pete was born on June 4, 1931 in Greensboro, NC to Louis Cree Tolleson and Mariel Buquo Tolleson. He graduated from Duke University, NC in 1953 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Anthropology, following which he served the army as a bandsman for two years (1954-1956) at Fort Leonard Wood, MO. In 1958, he received a Certificate in Occupational Therapy from Richmond Professional Institute, VA. Pete then worked as an Occupational Therapist at Greenville General Hospital, SC (1958-1960) and as a part- time Research Technician at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center (1962-1964) before discerning his call to ministry. In 1964, he earned his Master of Divinity from the Starr King School of Ministry, CA.

Rev. Tolleson entered preliminary fellowship in 1963. He was ordained by the Unitarian Church at Charleston, SC on November 15, 1964 where he carried out his first ministry from 1964 to 1969. Later in 1969, he accepted a call from the UU Church of Arlington, VA and ministered there until 1972. Subsequently, he served in parish ministry at two congregations: the UU Congregation of Greenville, NC (1978-1983) and the UU Fellowship Hendersonville, NC (1984-1985). After many years of distinguished service to Unitarian Universalism, Rev. Tolleson retired on July 31, 1988; however, he continued his service of pastoral counseling and officiating weddings until 2011.

On behalf of the denomination, Rev. Tolleson served as a board member of the Thomas Jefferson District (1968-1969). He also served the Summer Institutes Sites Committee, T. J. District (1969). Likewise, he sang in the church choirs for several years.

In addition to his ministerial and denominational work, Pete was Percussionist with Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, VA and Troop Information and Education Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) for the unit, while in the Army. He had active involvement with the YMCA and South Carolina Poetic Society. He worked as a teacher at Burgundy Farm County Day School, VA for six years (1972-1978). He was manager of the print shop at Warren Wilson College, NC (1984-1996) where many students who did their work-study found him to be both entertaining and inspiring. Pete’s article, “Funeral Service for Carl Sandburg,” was published by Lincoln Herald, Sandburg commemorative issue, Spring, 1968, Vol. 70, #1.

Pete had a real creative bent and his interest profile varied significantly from the usual pattern. He was a person with a wide range of abilities and talents in song and instrumental music (chorus, band, Greenville Symphony), crafts (wood and metal), photography, drama, and gym work. He taught crafts at Boy Scouts and church related camps; did medical photography in the hospital while working as an occupational therapist, and enjoyed sculpture, painting, inventive technology, cycling, reading, italic penmanship and calligraphy during his free time.

Pete’s niece Raelin had these thoughts to share of her uncle:

“Everywhere Pete worked people loved him - his affectionate and compassionate nature, his good cheer, and his strong work ethic were always inspirational to the people whose lives he touched. He will be remembered by so many!”

Pete is survived by his husband Ronnie “Ron” T. Marable, daughter Robin Tolleson, sister Martha Hansen, niece Raelin Hansen, nephew Lou Hansen, as well as his granddaughters: Jeannette Tolleson and Donia Zweig.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the charity of one’s own choosing.

There are currently no plans for a memorial service.

Notes of condolences may be sent to Ron T. Marable at: 114 Elizabeth St, Henderson, NC 27536; or to sister Martha Hansen at: 12185 Clipper Dr. Health Center, Rm 12, Lake Ridge, VA 22192; or to his niece Raelin Hansen at: 1 Battle Sq, Apt 803, Asheville, NC 28801.

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