Visiting historical places around the globe is a good fit for a history major who loves to travel. Len Stohler has always enjoyed exploring new places – even as a young man, he sold two steers in order to raise the money for a Boy Scout trip that stretched from his home in South Texas up to New York, Chicago and St. Louis. He also made a couple of trips to California to visit his great grandmother in San Jose.
After graduating from Baylor University he began attending Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, located in Marin County. His original plans were to become a minister, but eventually he switched directions and decided to become a teacher. He finished the credential requirements at San Francisco State.
In 1969 he came to Red Bluff to teach junior high. Len also served as the district’s Technology Mentor Teacher. With a major grant from Apple, Inc, he was able to work on a project that was presented at a national computer conference. During this time, he also oversaw school activities such as the yearbook and newspaper as well as photography.
Back then, photography was mostly the art of shooting and developing black and white film. He mentioned that the Daily News gave Vista a much-needed projector during that time. Today, photography is quite different, but Len has kept abreast of the latest technology. He even gave me some tips on how to use my new iPad.
He also introduced the “Bay Area Writing Project” in the district, a form of writing that focused more on fluency than form in the first drafts. It promoted more creativity in writing making it more enjoyable. He marveled that when encouraged, junior high students were so insightful and good at writing.
After retiring, Len spend many years as a member of the School Board. In 1995, Len experienced a heart problem that required open heart surgery. That episode offered him a second chance in life and the opportunity to consider new projects and activities. One thing that blossomed from his new lease on life was the idea to plant a garden similar to the style he had observed on a trip to China in 2006.
The concept of a Chinese garden is that it should be compact, asymmetrical and pleasing to the eye. The garden should also have a focal point. Len’s beautiful backyard garden has a wooden walkway surrounded by a wide variety of colorful flowers, shrubs and trees. His delightful garden is an attraction to a multitude of bees, birds and wildlife. While visiting with Len at an outdoor table in the shade, I was fortunate to watch, among other things, flocks of tiny finches, big black bumble bees and darting humming birds appreciating the flowers.
When asked why he gets involved in so many different things, Len responded, “I’ve always want to learn new things. I know I don’t have the answers – there’s always something to learn.”
A multitude of other interests compete for his travel and gardening time. His great love of theology has led him to become active in a number of ministries and activities at the Presbyterian Church in Red Bluff.
Len has also been a long-time member of the “Sons In Retirement” group known as SIRS. He has held many offices in SIRS including ‘Area Governor’, a position whose area includes Mt. Shasta, Redding and Red Bluff.
Len has a son, Bill who lives in Hawaii. He is a Senior Project Manager for AECOM. He loves diving and is a very talented underwater photographer (Len’s living room wall display many of his son’s photos).
Exploring interesting bridges has been added to his love for traveling, as well as writing Travelogue articles for the Red Bluff Daily News. A love for theatre and movies are also part of Len’s world – which all adds up to a life that is well lived and well-traveled.
Has your world been touched by dementia? My recent book, “Finishing Well: Finding Joy in the Journey”, is a collection of stories and tips about doing life with my Mama. May it encourage and inspire you to find the joy in your own, unique journey.
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