Monett author Laurence Stoll shared stories of his life and experience as a published author for last week's meeting of the Monett Kiwanis Club.
Stoll, whose life story is compiled in the book "The Happy Accident," said he attended a meeting with local author Cheryl Hodde at the Monett Public Library in 2006. Hodde asked how many attending could write a novel. Stoll said he could write a Christian novel on the story of his life, and began the project.
Born in central Kansas, Stoll got his first motorcycle at age 12, fell in love at age 15 and joined the United States Navy at age 17. His experience as a World War II-era seaman sent him around the world. He got shipwrecked off Yugoslavia and ended up, for lack of any other place to go, in a British-run prisoner of war camp with German captives.
Returning to Kansas, Stoll went into the machinist business with his father. He worked as a welder and mechanic for 13 years. He married his wife, Lucille, at age 20 and had four children. At age 32, he became a salesman, a job he hated, and at 33 bought a lumber yard in a small Kansas town.
Stoll found running a lumber yard difficult when everyone wanted credit, people didn't like to pay, and the town was so small that pressuring anyone brought ramifications. At age 42 he switched professions and became a flight instructor and airplane mechanic. At age 46, Stoll leased the Aurora airport, found business was so good he hired a second flight instructor and became a pilot.
At age 54, Stoll had an airplane crash and a motorcycle accident that resulted in 13 weeks of hospitalization. The next year, Stoll became the first pilot for Jack Henry and Associates. He mentored Jack Fox to become the company's corporate pilot and retired at age 58.
The Stolls then hit the road in a recreational vehicle. They crisscrossed the nation, visited Canada and Alaska. Their travels took them through eight RVs.
With his travels behind him, Stoll wrote his book at age 80 and self-published it. A publisher told him how to make improvements, so he did a rewrite, changed the cover and finished "The Happy Accident," which he has spent his time marketing in recent years.
Stoll said the injuries he experienced were God's way to get him to pay attention. His struggles taught him what it meant to be a true Christian.
The Monett area is particularly rich in authors, Stoll said. He knows around two dozen local published authors. Promoting a book has become yet another job, bringing his lifetime total to around nine. Stoll has a webpage for his book at thehappyaccidentbook.com.
Kiwanis president Eric Kean, who presided at the meeting, introduced Stoll.
The Monett Kiwanis Club meets at noon on Tuesdays for a meal and a program, usually at Happy House restaurant.