Our History

Tolson Agency, Inc. , located at 511 Kihekah Avenue is the oldest established business in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

The Agency was established by Joseph B. Tolson, who came to Oklahoma from Alabama in July of 1905, having sold out his mercantile business and homestead in Gadsen, Alabama to move westward. Landing in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma early in July, Joseph Tolson heard, from a traveling man, of the Osage Reservation and of Pawhuska. In late July he arrived in Pawhuska in time for the sale of lots.

After buying several lots, renting some space in the old Citizens National Bank Building, and opening the Tolson Agency, Joseph Tolson then sent to Alabama for his wife, Ruth and two sons, Joseph and Ralph S.

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In 1914, Tolson Agency moved into their new office on the 3rd Floor of the Triangle Building while workmen were still completing the building and remained in the Triangle building for 49 years.

In 1935, Ralph S. Tolson took over the family business following the death of his father and in 1951. His oldest son, Stratford joined the Agency after graduating from the University of Oklahoma. It was at this time that Tolson Agency moved to the 1st floor of the Triangle building. 

Melvin Tolson and Ralph M. Tolson joined the Agency in 1958 and 1961 respectively.  Ralph M. Tolson retired October of 1999.  All three sons, Strat, Ralph, and Melvin have served our country and are veterans of World War II and Korea. 


In 1963, due to the need for more space, Tolson Agency again moved their offices, but now across the street to their present location, 511 Kihekah Avenue, Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

In 1987, Steve Tolson, Ralph’s youngest child, moved back to Pawhuska to raise a family and join the Agency.

Jeff Phillippi joined Tolson Agency, Inc. in 1999 as a partner.  He left the business in August 2020 to move closer to aging parents, children, grandchildren and to pursue other interests in Eufaula, Oklahoma.

Although officially retired, Tolson Agency is fortunate that Mel Tolson still drops by on a regular basis to assist and keep the staff "in line".

Steve Tolson operates the business with a talented and knowledgeable staff which includes, Lori Hull Highfill, Tamie Hollister, Nancy Dawson, Aubrey Gardner, and Diane Tolson Chaffin.    Joe Barnard (of Fairfax, Oklahoma) and Gary Woods (of Tulsa, Oklahoma) are also insurance producers for the business.

Tolson Agency, Inc. is an Independent Insurance Agency and writes Personal and Commercial Insurance and Bonds through several highly rated insurance companies.

The office staff is active in Rotary, City of Pawhuska boards, local economic development committees, churches, and supports many other civic and community organizations,

Steve Tolson

Steve is the fourth generation to operate Tolson Agency, Inc.  With over 33 years of experience in commercial and personal lines, his vast knowledge of the insurance business makes him the "go to" person for proper coverage to mitigate risk. Steve's personal attention to detail benefits the very large and very small customers he serves.

Steve is also the managing Real Estate broker for Tolson Agency, Inc. and has an extensive understanding of real estate transactions.

The Tolson family has always believed that you give back to the community where you live and work.  Steve has continued this family value during his 33 years at the Tolson Agency.  He is a newly elected City Councilor, serves as the Treasurer for the Presbyterian Disciples Church, and is active in Rotary.  His past involvements include Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce, Osage County Industrial Trust Authority, Osage County Historical Society, Pawhuska Library, Constantine Arts Council, Pawhuska Hospital Board of Incorporators, and Elder at First Presbyterian Church.  

Lori Hull Highfill, CIC

Born and raised in Pawhuska, Lori started her insurance career in 1991 and received her Property & Casualty Insurance license in November 1992.  She spent seven years at the Carter-Swartz Agency and three years with Farmers Insurance before joining the Tolson Agency in February 2001.  

In February 2013, Lori recieved her Life Insurance license and March 2018, she earned the designation of "Certified Insurance Counselor".

Lori is a valuable asset to Commercial Lines business specializing in oilfield liability and farm/ranch exposures. 

Current co-treasurer of the Constantine Theater, previous Kiwanis President, and former Pawhuska School Board member serving as Vice President are just a few ways in which Lori has served her community.  She was selected as the AARP Agent Community Engagement & Service Award in 2013.


In her free time, Lori enjoys photography, hunting, fishing, and spending time with her grandson. 

Aubrey Gardner

Aubrey is the newest valuable team member at Tolson Agency, Inc.  She joined us in March 2019 and is the smile that all are blessed to see when they walk in the door.

Aubrey has maintained her Property and Casualty, Life, and Health Insurance licenses since 2013.   She is a customer service specialist and processes Personal Lines business.

Spending time with family, anything outdoors (fishing, hiking,etc.), and cooking/baking are Aubrey's outside of office activities.

New to Pawhuska, we appreciate the talents she has brought to our company and the community.

Joe Barnard

Joe has been a producer for the Tolson Agency for over 35 years.  A native of Fairfax, Oklahoma, Joe handles insurance products in the Western part of Osage County.

Joe serves as the tag agent for the State of Oklahoma in Fairfax, OK.  He loves to spend his free time at his family ranch.

Gary Woods

Gary has been a producer for the Tolson Agency for over 25 years.  A Tulsa resident, Gary offers a variety of expertise in the larger markets.

He also offers is expertise as a financial advisor for Woodbury Investments.

Tamie Hollister, CISR

Tamie joined the Tolson Agency, Inc. in 2001. and maintains a Property and Casualty Insurance license. 


She is a personal lines counselor assisting customers with insurance quotes and coverage for homes, automobiles, boats, motorcycles, etc.  Tamie strives to provide quality customer service.

Tamie is an avid sports fan of the New York Yankees and the University of Oklahoma Sooners.  She also enjoys spending time with family and fishing in her free time.

Mel Tolson

Mel joined Tolson Agency in 1958 continuing the legacy of his father Ralph S. Tolson and grandfather Joseph B. Tolson.  He worked to grow the agency with his two brothers, Strat and Ralph, and eventually his nephew, Steve.

Mel still comes into the office a few days a week to process claims and billing issues.  He likes to do business the "old fashioned" way and gives all of us at Tolson Agency a glimps of the kinder, gentler past that we often forget about but long to recapture.

A veteran of the Korean War and a lifetime of dedicated volunteering for many civic and community organizations, Mel showed us how things should be done. 


We are thankful that Mel still keeps an eye on us here at the Tolson Agency.


511 Kihekah Avenue

Pawhuska, OK  74056


1-888-287-4233 TOLL FREE

918-287-3809  FAX

Monday - Friday

8:00 - 12:00 and 1:00 - 5:00