If you’ve been to one or more of the many civic or community events that go on each year in Tulare County, then you will probably recognize this man. He is often seen setting up a sponsorship table for a chamber dinner or one of the people handing out free books from a booth at business-to-business conferences.
Maybe you saw him late on a Friday afternoon, lugging the heavy equipment needed to broadcast local High School football games. Perhaps you recall that smiling face, glistening with rainwater from behind the wheel of a volunteer cart during the week of Ag-Expo. Most likely, you even took a second look at him when the occasion called for formal attire, since he usually wears a traditional Scottish kilt in recognition of his family heritage.
He often moves at the speed of light, rushing around like the white rabbit in “Alice in Wonderland.” He is a man with a mission, actually, many missions. There just are not enough hours in the day to do everything he’d like to do.
He could get so much more done if there were 28 hours instead of 24. That would take care of the drive time required to get from his home in Springville to the many meetings he attends all the way across the county. The real question is, as the dynamic energy force he creates passes quickly by, were you able to catch the writing on the nametag he puts on each morning? If so, you would have read the name, Larry Stoneburner.
Larry Stoneburner (most people just call him “Doc”) is one of those dedicated community volunteers who make the South Valley so special. When interviewing him for this article, it soon became apparent that he devotes the majority of his time to enriching lives of other citizens in Tulare County.
He holds a multitude of titles within local organizations including:
- Education Advocate for the Academy Academic Model – which fosters entrepreneurship skills with alumni as mentors and providers for students and initiates and develops a critical-thinking work experience program
- Tulare County Farm Bureau Advisory Board-Chair Rural Health & Safety and an active committee member on education, membership, land use, water, and scholarship fundraising
- Co-Chair #748 North Central Valley CA and #761 South Central Valley at CAAAN (Cornell Alumni Admissions Ambassador Network)
- President of the Southern Central Valley of California Cornell Club, which includes the counties of Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Kern
- Volunteer Advisory Board Member, Harmony Magnet Academy of Engineering and Performing Arts
- CEO, Director of Community Relations, Relationship Facilitator of Community Outreach at KTIP Radio – AM 1450
- Veteran of Foreign Wars Life Member
Here are more organizations he was involved with in the past:
- Advisory Board Member at Environmental Science Academy of the Porterville Unified School District as a “mission specific” Academy on the campus of Monache High School. With support of Linked Learning, ConnectEd, and the Irvine Foundation, focused learning and skill development in environmental science.
- Board Member for the Creative Center Foundation
- Board Member on the Advisory Board, Dept. of Agriculture, College of Sequoias
- Springville Rotary Club member
- Noon Rotary Club of Porterville member
In addition, he currently is involved with the Tulare, Visalia, Exeter and Porterville Chambers of Commerce.
After learning of the amount of organizations he has become part of since becoming a Tulare County resident, he was asked to describe what motivates him to give so much of himself.
He immediately responded, “I have lead a blessed and productive life. At any time in our life we may be faced with challenges and adversity. When that occurs we are forced to make a series of choices. You have to pick a path. There’s no option but to do something, you can’t remain immobile. I’ve somehow made the choices that have brought about more successes in my life.”
He went on to further explain his philosophy on success.
“Everyone measures success by different criteria. My wife, Mimi, and I don’t place money and the acquisition of material things to be the ‘currency’ of our success. We both believe that our success lies in assisting others around us to become successful within their own path. We base our success in seeing other people succeed. My biggest success was choosing her as my life-mate. I’ve been truly blessed by being able to work along side of her during all 43 years of our marriage. My very favorite pronouns are ‘we, us, and ours.’
He leaned across the table with that youthful, “Doc” smile, and asked, “Do you want to know something funny? For the first 30 years that we were together, she was known as the wife of Dr. Stoneburner. However, for the last 13 years, I’m known as the husband of the famous Mimi! ”
Due to complications which were incurred during a five-vessel-bypass heart surgery, Doc sustained permanent injury to his left hand. It left him with a lack of feeling in his fingertips, rendering him unable to perform the intricate procedures required of him to be an OB-GYN surgeon.
The Stoneburners had acquired ownership of KTIP Radio, a local news/talk station in Porterville. It was her dream to have a venue that would allow her further explore career in media broadcasting.
For more than a decade, the couple produced three medical segments a week that aired on a local television station. Both of their sons had finished college and left home, so he retired from his well-established medical practice in Bakersfield and headed for the hills. Actually it was the foothills, of Springville.
As he began to discuss his past, he made it clear why education plays the major role in the choices he makes with his time today.
“I was born in Coshocton, Ohio in 1941. In those days, the role models for me were doctors, teachers and pastors. After high school, I was able to attend Cornell University in upstate New York for two years and was studying engineering. My father became ill, so I returned home and got my Bachelor of Arts in psychology at Ohio State University.
“From there I transferred to George Washington’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences. That’s where I got my Doctorate in Medicine. During my internship, we worked 36 hours on and 36 hours off. Being tired was no reason to make mistakes. I tell students today that anyone can make a mistake. You just shouldn’t make the same one over and over again.
“I had planned on furthering my education, but Uncle Sam had other plans for me, and in 1968 I was drafted into the Navy and went off to the Vietnam War. Instantly I had gone from a lowly intern to being responsible for 53 corpsman.
“I learned a lot about leadership while in the service. A good leader is someone who is willing to listen, and someone who is an advocate for the wellness and the goodness of those who work for you. Good leadership is really working together. It’s a combination of book learning and life learning. After I left the military, I was ready to continue my studies in medicine, so I attended the Naval Hospital in San Diego where I became Board Certified as an OB-GYN.”
Then he turned the conversation back to the subject of “choices.”
“When faced with decisions about our future, our purpose, it is important to know what you’re passionate about. You can be passionate about many things in life, but you need purpose to direct it.
“I tell my students that passion with a purpose, combined with innovation and creativity is what sets up current and future success in this life. As a recruiter for Cornell University, I’ve had the privilege of helping many young adults make wise decisions about where to continue their education. If you’ve earned the right to qualify for a top-tier university, you should not be denied entrance due to lack of funds. I believe we should help our kids go to the best schools on someone else’s money. It’s my job to make that happen. ”
Larry Stoneburner describes himself as an “all-in” guy.
“If I say I’ll do it, I do it. The problem is that in order to do something new in my life, I have to give up something old. I have to evaluate where I can be most effective.
“Every day I wake up knowing I have an opportunity for new communication, for new relationships, to connect people with one another. Each day I have just completed another step, another success. I am a relationship facilitator. I help direct people to others to expand their purpose and build success.”