Today we honor a long-time member, benefactor, past chair of the OGS Cemetery Committee, and a past Trustee of the Ohio Genealogical Society - Lolita Thayer Guthrie - on her 90th birthday.
Lolita’s involvement with OGS began innocently enough in 1990 when she started riding to Mansfield with a board member friend to do research on days of board meetings. Before the end of that year, she accepted the appointment as OGS Cemetery Committee Chair. It took 13 years but, under Lolita’s leadership, the Cemetery Committee completely overhauled the information in two previous OGS cemetery books and in 2003 published Ohio Cemeteries: 1803-2003 with information on over 14,600 cemeteries and burial sites throughout Ohio. In 1993,
she was elected to her first term on the OGS Board of Trustees and served continuously until she chose to “retire” in April 2005.
Her involvement with the OGS Cemetery Committee led to her appointment, by then Governor George Voinovich, in 1993 as an original member of the board of the Ohio Cemetery Dispute Resolution Commission, a nine member state commission, which met four times yearly to hear complaints filed with the state against the owners or operators of active cemeteries within Ohio. Seven members were owners or operators of cemeteries, while the other two represented the public. Lolita was the member who represented Ohio’s senior citizens on this commission, even serving as secretary of the commission.
Concern for cemeteries and their preservation led Lolita to work closely with another State Board, the Ohio Historic Preservation Office in Columbus.
Although a tireless advocate for Ohio cemeteries, Lolita herself is a Hoosier native. She met her husband, Mearl Guthrie, of Abilene, Kan., when the U.S. Army sent him for specialized training at Ball State University (formerly Teachers College) early in World War II. The Guthrie’s ended up making their home in Bowling Green, Ohio, where Mearl taught at Bowling Green State University. Lolita started out as an elementary school teacher, but chose an even more demanding and honorable job as a stay-at-home mother, intermixing volunteerism roles in the First Presbyterian Church of Bowling Green, the Maumee Valley Presbytery, the local hospital guild, as well as other local and state organizations.
Lolita was also very active in the Wood County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society. Lolita developed a phenomenal relationship with the Wood County Commissioners, Clerk of
Courts, Auditor, Probate Court, Engineer’s Office, and Records Center. In fact, she convinced the Wood County Commissioners that they should give the chapter office space in the Old Wood County Jail. After it was decided that the jail would be converted into a records center, the commissioners gave the chapter an office in the Wood County Office Building, and later another office as well. She was the driving force behind the book Doctors on Horseback, which was published in conjunction with the Wood County Hospital anniversary. This book contains information on all the doctors in Wood County.”
And that’s not all. Lolita was active in the Guthrie clan. Among her contributions to Guthrie family history are: The First Annual Guthrie Scrapbook, 1988, Highlighting Allied Families: Cline, Kitterman and Guthrie Genealogy, With Index From the Clan Guthrie News, a publication she produced for over 23 years.
At the 2006 OGS Annual Conference, OGS honored Lolita by naming her as an OGS Fellow. The Fellow of the Ohio Genealogical Society Award is given to an individual who has provided valuable service to the society and to the field of genealogy over and above the job to which they were elected or appointed through volunteer work, special projects, or their expertise or skill in accomplishing a goal for the society.
Also, in 2006, it was with great pleasure that the Ohio Genealogical Society submitted Lolita as a candidate for the Ruth C. Bishop Family History Living Volunteer Hall of Honor Award through the Federation of Genealogical Societies. At the 2006 FGS Conference held in Boston, Massachusetts, Lolita was honored as the 2006 inductee into the Ruth C. Bishop Volunteer Hall of Honor.
A very huge thank you to Lolita for all of your contributions not only to the Ohio Genealogical Society, but to the genealogical community as a whole.
A VERY Happy Birthday to you!
Information for this article was obtained from the October-December 2006 issue of the OGS Genealogy News.