Don Stratton, a founding member of the Krewe of Armeinius, passed away on August 30, 2021 at his home in New Orleans, one day before his 77th birthday.
He was born on August 31, 1944 in New Orleans to Fred and Mae Stratton, who predeceased him.
A graduate of John McDonogh High School on Esplanade Avenue, Stratton began his career working for Kemper Insurance. For over 50 years, however, he was a professional costume builder for many krewes including the Krewe Of Cleopatra, the St. Bernard Parish krewe Daughters of Eve, and Metairie’s Krewe of Centurions for which he made costumes for 30 years.
He had been working right up until the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, according to his lifelong friend and fellow Armeinius founding member Wendell Stipelcovich.
Stratton was Captain of Armeinius six times (1972, 1977, 1988-1991). He reigned as Queen twice, in 1970/71 as Queen Armeinius II portraying “Cherries Jubilee” for the Ball’s theme of “Armeinius Gardens”, and as Queen Armeinius XXV, the Silver Anniversary Queen, in 1993/94.
“Don worked hard in the early years of Armeinius with me,” said Stipelcovich. “Armeinius was really known for its shows and Don was always in them. He selected songs for them, often from Broadway shows, that would lend themselves to comedy like Bosom Buddies from Mame.”
Stratton was featured in Tim Wolff’s 2010 documentary film The Sons of Tennessee Williams, which charts the evolution of the gay Mardi Gras krewe scene over the decades, and how its emergence was a seminal factor in the cause of gay liberation in the South. “The distinguished mark [Stratton] leaves on New Orleans Carnival is absolutely permanent,” Wolff stated in a Facebook tribute post, adding, “He was known to embellish a ball costume for himself so heavily that he could barely walk in it.”
In a letter to the Krewe, Kevin Hemenger, former President of Armeinius and reigning King Armeinius LII, wrote that Stratton “was still active in the organization at the time of his death. Don’s passing is a great loss to the Krewe and he will be missed by all of us.”
Stratton is survived by his cousin James Aucoin, and his godchild Gary Aucoin, Jr.
Information about funeral arrangements was not available at press time.