George Tolles: Remembering a Friend of The Community Foundation and Colorado Mountain College
The Yampa Valley lost a vibrant community member, wise Renaissance man, and worldly educator this spring. George Tolles passed away March 26th at the age of 89, leaving a legacy that is deeply rooted in the history of Colorado Mountain College (CMC), where he taught for several decades as the chair of the International Relations Department. George’s passion was to keep the Steamboat community and the CMC campus connected to the larger international community.
In 1991 when George retired from CMC, his colleagues surprised him with the creation of The George Tolles International Studies Scholarship, raising over $10,000. The scholarship, administered through YVCF, encouraged international studies and promoted the CMC Alpine Campus to foreign students, in addition to allowing CMC students to study abroad.
John Vickery, who was the Dean of CMC at the time of George’s retirement, shares, “We realized one of the most meaningful things we could do for George’s retirement was to create a scholarship in his name. We knew this would honor his legacy at the college more than a plaque.” His colleagues wished to commemorate George’s career as an educator, teaching International Relations, politics, German and Spanish at the campus.
In collaboration with Benita Bristol, some of the scholarships funded several local residents from West Africa to attend CMC. Other awards went to students from abroad, including ski racers coming to study and compete at the Alpine Campus. Since the inception of the scholarship 28 years ago, 39 students have received scholarships totaling $20,950. The scholarship continues to fund students on an annual basis.
Kathy Kiser, Vice President, Dean Steamboat Springs Campus & Vice President of Academic Affairs at Colorado Mountain College reflects, “When he taught classes on campus the rooms overflowed with eager students, always looking forward to the next offering from George. Impromptu conversations with him were enlightening and probing, allowing for connectivity of ideas and transformative moments. George was critical in the creation of our campus and was always so proud of the campus. He will be missed.”
Those who wish to continue George’s legacy can donate to the George Tolles International Studies Scholarship for students attending the CMC Alpine Campus.