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A learned general

Builder of Camp Lewis honored by education center

Named in honor of Maj. Gen. David Stone, the builder of Camp Lewis, the Stone Education Center extends educational opportunities to soldiers. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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Maj. Gen. David Stone would have understood.

"Fundamental to all that we do in life, the search for knowledge must not end with a high school diploma," said former Sergeant Major of the Army Glen Morrell. "High-performance soldiers feel the need and motivation for self-growth."

The architect of Camp Lewis in 1917, Stone's long list of accomplishments is honored by the presence of the Stone Education Center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

An 1898 West Point graduate as an infantry officer, 2nd Lt. Stone's career began with duty in the Spanish-American War in Cuba. Shortly after the war's end, he sailed to the Philippines, where in 1899 he battled insurgents.

He returned to Fort Omaha, Nebraska, in 1902, only to be sent back to the Philippines.

Wounded on Mindanao Island, Stone returned to recover at the Presidio in San Francisco. Soon after, the Army transferred him to the quartermaster corps.

Noted for his ability to manage details and personnel, and as America prepared to enter World War I, Captain Stone received orders to construct Camp Lewis.

Arriving May 26, 1917, Stone selected the final site for the camp and then finalized the contracts to begin construction.

Under Stone's direction, Hurley Mason Contractors finished the project in 90 days.  More than 1,500 wood-frame buildings were constructed, along with 105 miles of streets and a sewer system.

A hallmark of his intelligence, sharpened by his education, was his innovation to provide worker housing to reduce their travel time. Stone also proved a shrewd manager by paying workers a 50-cents-per-day bonus to prevent a strike.

Of the 16 national Army camps, Camp Lewis opened on time and at the lowest per capita cost of $142.

Promotions came quickly, and in December 1917, Lt. Col. Stone was reassigned to Camp Green, North Carolina, as the 3rd Division quartermaster. Deployed to France in 1918, he participated in three campaigns. After the war, Col. Stone worked in the rebuilding of Germany.

During the 1920s and 1930s, he served at a number of posts.  He also maintained contact with Anita Thorne Corse, the daughter of Chester Thorne, builder of Thornewood Castle on American Lake in Lakewood.

With the passing of Stone's wife and the Corses' divorce, Brig. Gen. Stone and Mrs. Corse initiated a relationship. They married in 1936 at Thornewood in a ceremony officiated by Fort Lewis chaplain Maj. James Blakeney.

After a brief command at Fort Snelling, Minnesota, the Stones returned to Fort Lewis, where Brig. Gen. Stone assumed command of the fort and the 3rd Infantry Division.

Promoted to major general, Stone initiated a program to beautify the post.  Some of the 5,000 trees planted under his direction still ring Watkins Field.

In 1937, he was sent to the Panama Canal Zone to direct a defensive buildup and to oversee the construction program.

Reaching the mandatory age for retirement in 1940, Stone retired and entered civilian life.

But his intelligence in promoting the interests of soldiers was not forgotten.

On Jan. 17, 1995, the Stone Education Center opened.  At 62,300 square feet and comprised of 27 classrooms, a 175-seat auditorium and college services, the educational facility soon earned the logo of "Campus of Excellence."

"One's knowledge is developed and enhanced through extensive education, training and experience," said former SMA Raymond Chandler.

"It's not just the individual, but society as a whole experiences benefit with increased levels of learning and education."

Maj. Gen. Stone would agree.

Credits: Dr. Duane Denfeld, JBLM Cultural Resources Program, contributed to this article.

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