Verlon Lloyd Stone
Verlon Lloyd Stone was born in Viola Township in Audubon, Iowa, on March 18, 1944, to Melva and Sievert Stone. He was the oldest of five boys. On August 22, 1965, he married his high school sweetheart, Ruth Marie (Spehr) Stone, while they were both pursuing bachelor’s degrees in education at State College of Iowa (now University of Northern Iowa).
In 1968, they moved to New York City, where he taught 4th and 5th grade in Harlem and, on the weekends, took the students on field trips to offer experiences outside the neighborhood. Verlon got on the plane “kicking and screaming” in 1970 to go to Liberia for the first time, because Ruth was doing fieldwork for her master’s degree, a trip that would transform the trajectory of his life and begin a love for international travel. In 1972, they moved to Bloomington, Indiana, where Ruth began her doctoral work at Indiana University. After a year, Verlon began Ph.D. in Instruction Systems Technology at IU. Verlon and Ruth conducted their dissertation research in Liberia in 1975-1976. On December 22, 1976, their daughter Angela was born, but not without many health challenges in the first few years, including a lot of time spent at Riley Hospital in Indianapolis.
He graduated in December 1979 with his Ph.D. and started his first job in IST for a map-making company in Chicago. He worked in Saudi Arabia from 1982-1986 on health education materials for Saudi Aramco, and the family moved there, while Ruth continued to share time in Bloomington where she was a professor at Indiana University in the Folklore and Ethnomusicology department. In 1986, Verlon started a religious publishing business, Meyer Stone Publishing, with two friends from college. Verlon was able to return to Saudi Arabia from 1990-2001 to work on executive presentations. In 1989, Verlon was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but after chemotherapy, he remained in remission for the rest of his life.
Verlon retired in December 2001 and came back to Indiana to pursue his passion, starting the Liberian Collections Project, an archive to preserve the history of Liberia through historical documents, the writings, and recordings of former government officials, cultural leaders, and many other Liberian people. He worked with LCP until the end of his life, transitioning it to be an archive within the IU libraries where he hoped it would continue beyond his life.
Verlon loved talking to people, learning their stories and sharing his own life story, which included everything from growing up on a farm to parasailing and scuba diving in his 70s. He worked until the day he died ensuring that the passion he had developed for Liberia and its people lived on.
He passed away at home in Bloomington, Indiana, unexpectedly on May 30, 2023. Verlon is survived by: his wife, Ruth, IU Professor Emerita, daughter Angela Stone-MacDonald, and her husband Keith MacDonald; his brothers Lyle Stone, Gary Stone, Dale Stone, and Roger Stone and their families, as well as in-laws Paul Spehr and Jeanette Childress and their families.
A funeral service will be held at Trinity Episcopal Church in Bloomington, Indiana on July 1 at 11:00 am. Memorial donations can be made to:
- Trinity Episcopal Second Century Fund, 111 S. Grant Street, Bloomington, IN 47408.
- Amos C. Sawyer Educational Foundation, 3880 Greenhouse Rd. Suite 405, Houston, TX 77084.
- Riley Children’s Hospital, Indianapolis, Indiana.
Allen Funeral Home and Crematory, 4155 South Old State Road 37, Bloomington have been entrusted with arrangements.