Feb. 20, 2009
Longtime Whitworth Professor Publishes Collection of Thoughts on "Life in the Exit Lane"
In the first page of his new book, Reflections on Life in the Exit Lane, Whitworth Professor Emeritus of Biology Howard Stien quotes Psalm 90, which says, "Seventy years is the span of a life, eighty if our strength holds…We spend our years as a tale being told under the watchful eye of God…The hurrying years pass quickly and we are forgotten." Below the quotation, Stien writes, "Surely a bit of remembering won’t hurt."
So begins this collection of Stien's memories and musings, which are at turns both solemn and humorous. In several sections of the book, Stien recalls his time spent as a teenager serving in the military during World War II. And in one passage, he lightheartedly refutes the notion that pioneer Norwegian immigrants baptized their children in coffee.
The idea behind Reflections on Life in the Exit Lane was born from a resolution Stien made on his 80th birthday, to mark each day with a brief entry about a noteworthy event that had occurred on that day in any given year of his life. At the encouragement of his wife and family, Stien decided to publish his anthology.
"The book is a collection of short, daily blurbs musing about significant days, present and past, among a 29,200 accumulation of days in 80 years of orbiting the sun," Stien says. "It begins last century at the twilight of the horse and buggy days and spans eight decades of life with four generations – at home, at war, on the farm, in church, at university, mastering retirement, and the delightful six-decade journey with Pat, my wife."
Stien says he uses the phrase "exit lane" to denote the intellectual and emotional context in which the recollections of a long, happy, productive life were written.
Bonnie Robinson, wife of Whitworth President Bill Robinson, says, "I learned a lot about Howard and Whitworth through reading this book. I'm thankful for his wonderful insights and deep reflections, and for his reminders about what is most important in life."
Janna Nicholson, program coordinator for institutional advancement at Whitworth, says, "Reading through the passages, I found that I could easily place myself in the many relationships of Howard's life. Our collective human experience is not all that different – similar things happen to each one of us, albeit perhaps in different settings."
Stien began teaching at Whitworth in September 1965 as chairman of the biology department. After retiring in 1993, he served as a sabbatical replacement at Whitworth in 1996-97. His wife, Pat, is a Whitworth professor emeritus of theatre.
Prior to Reflections on Life in the Exit Lane, Stien has written The Improbable Professor (2003), a humorous look at the professoriate, and Stump House Stories (2001), a children's book based upon stories he told his grandchildren that were set in the stump house he built for them.
In addition, he has written two sets of children's stories based on his grandchildren, The Zach Tales and Who's Buggin' Abbie?
Reflections on Life in the Exit Lane was published in 2008 by Stump House Books, the publishing company Stien and his wife formed in 2001.
The book can be purchased at the Whitworth University bookstore at (509) 777-3277 or by contacting the author at (509) 466-5449 or Stienway@comcast.net.
Though he pauses to reflect on a long, event-filled life in his new book, Stien shows no sign of slowing down, especially where writing is concerned. He has two projects in the works, including a novel titled Dagmar and the Sons of Ole, which will be loosely based on the lives of Stien and his four brothers and their Scandinavian immigrant parents.
Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,600 students, offers 53 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
Howard Stien, (509) 466-5449 or Stienway@whitworth.edu.
Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or firstname.lastname@example.org.