Stan Zimmer

1965 Ashland alum authors two books in one year

Published on Jan. 13, 2023
Arts and Culture

The past year has been a busy one for Clinton Stanley “Stan” Zimmer, a 1965 Ashland College graduate.

He has written two books, one about his parents’ experiences in China as missionaries from 1936 to 1948 and the other about coping with mental illness in his family.

“They will probably be the only two I write,” Zimmer said about his hectic year of writing, which saw “The Pull of China” published in December and “Eagle Wings Over the Valley” finished in January.

During his retirement years, Zimmer said he has tried different things to keep him busy and decided about a year ago to write “The Pull of China” after coming across some letters his parents had written to their mothers during their time in China.

His mother, who passed away in 1995, had gotten the letters back from her mother and passed them on to Zimmer’s younger sister, who then gave them to him.

The book consists primarily of excerpts of those letters, which describe the hardships of doing mission work in a remote part of southwestern China during the Japanese invasion, World War II and civil war in China, as well as their trust in God during that time.

“The book brings out the importance of prayer,” Zimmer said. “So many family and friends prayed for China while they were missionaries there. At one point, my mother said she had 285 people she wrote to who supported them with prayer. She loved to write letters and stayed in contact with her prayer supporters and financial supporters.”

His mother, Sylvia, was a graduate of the West Virginia University in journalism who met his father, Gerald, in 1934 at Ashbury Seminary when they were both attending that seminary in Kentucky. They then spent about a year in Illinois preparing to be missionaries.

“They both fell in love with the idea of serving God,” Zimmer said about his parents. “They decided to become missionaries of China at the call of E. Stanley Jones.

“It was a time when China was open to missionaries,” added Zimmer, who was actually named after E. Stanley Jones, evangelist to Asia. 

Zimmer’s mother earned a second degree in teaching from Ashland College after his father, who was the pastor of two churches while the family lived in Polk, was committed to a mental institution and took his own life. She went on to teach English in the Ashland City Schools from 1958 to 1970 to support her three children after her husband’s suicide.

“After he came back from China his mental illness came up,” Zimmer said about his father. “For many years it was hard to talk about his death because it was by suicide. I wrote the book because I wanted others to know there is a solution of walking with God and trusting God.”

While that book is only 48 pages, “The Pull of China” is 268 pages. 

All his life, Zimmer has felt “the pull of China,” not only living there for a few years as a youngster, but also starting a nonprofit foundation to support students with scholarships at a university his parents helped start. He has visited China around 40 times over the years for his foundation and served the area in other ways, such as helping build medical centers.

He hasn’t been to China since 2017 because of a diagnosis of low-grade lymphoma, but has stayed in contact with many of the 60 students he helped there through email.

Working in an international marketing career allowed Zimmer to visit about 50 countries and even live in Japan for a few years.  

Of all the places he has visited, Zimmer, who now lives in Florida, said he has fond memories of Ashland, where he also graduated high school. He and his wife, who attended Ashland College too, were amazed at how much the college and city have grown when they visited a few years ago, Zimmer said.

“Ashland was good to me,” Zimmer said.

Both of his books were published by Xulon Press and can be purchased by going to - “The Pull of China” for $17.49 and “Eagle Wings over the Valley” for $10.99 starting at the end of January.