50 Influencers: Dr. Gene Stotlar, paragon of Pinckneyville

INA, Ill. (Sept. 15, 2017) - What do you call a collegiate basketball standout, a United States Army veteran, a doctor with over four decades of serving his community (not to mention delivering around 1,500 babies), a community leader with a boundless passion for improving the area around him and was born on New Year’s Eve no less? We call him an icon and an influencer, but most people just know him as “Dr. Stotlar.”

As a student-athlete at Southern Illinois University, Gene Stotlar was the starting point guard as a freshman for the 1946 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) National Champions.

He was recognized as the Tournament Most Valuable Player and First-Team All-America.

His heroics were not forgotten. Stotlar was one of 75 individuals (60 players, 15 coaches) named to the NAIA 75th Anniversary All-Star Team in 2012.

After graduating from Saint Louis University School of Medicine, Stotlar started practicing at a city hospital at the age of 23. He served two years in the U.S. Army and moved to Pinckneyville at age 27.

In 1955, he joined his brother, Dr. James B. Stotlar, and Dr. G.H. Edwards in medical practice in Pinckneyville, where he practiced for 36 years, retiring in 1991. During this time he served on the Pinckneyville Grade School Board, the St. Bruno School Board and the Rend Lake College Foundation.

He summed up his chosen endeavors directly, “It’s simple. We do it to help kids get an education.”

StotlarScholarshipJonesRLC13WDr. Gene Stotlar poses with RLC student Mike Jones of Nashville. Jones is one of the many students that Stotlar helped through college with his scholarship contributions. The pair pose in front of the Rend Lake College Murphy-Wall Pinckneyville Campus, a facility that Stotlar helped cultivate. Click on the image for a larger view. 

Stotlar went on to serve on the RLCF for 15 years, stepping down in 2010.

“We have accomplished a lot of good things . . . but I’ve been there and done that,” he said at a ceremony honoring his service to Rend Lake College and its students. “I feel like it’s time to get some new blood on the board.”

No one could argue with the accomplishments.

For years, Stotlar and his wife Ramona provided scholarships to RLC students.

But, his dedication didn’t end there. Of all the RLCF campaigns Stotlar has been a part of during his tenure, the establishment of a satellite campus in his hometown was the most rewarding for him, he said.

Before there was the Murphy-Wall Pinckneyville Campus, very little RLC presence existed in the community, nestled on the southeastern boundary of the college district. Before Murphy-Wall, night classes were held in the local high school and some individualized training was offered in industrial facilities.

After the completion of the campus, Stotlar wasn’t content to rest on his laurels.

Stotlar’s parting words to the Board included a challenge. He said a lab still stood in the way of students being able to complete a degree at the Murphy-Wall Campus, without ever having to make the long drive to the Ina campus. He said he would like to see that lab become the next project the Board tackled.

The board and the community responded, raising the funds needed for a science/computer wing at the campus. For his part, Stotlar was honored with the Dr. Gene Stotlar Computer Classroom, gracing the halls of the facility he worked so hard to see completed.

“. . . Our country and our well-being is centered on education. If you don’t have education you are kind of going to be out of luck. We are blessed that kids are wanting to get an education and further blessed that Rend Lake is in on it. It’s going to happen. It’s going to happen right here,” Stotlar said.

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