After my dad had a stroke, a man called his home, Richard said. I answered the phone. The man said that he owed Stanley a long overdue thank you.
As the story went, the man was severely wounded behind enemy lines during a reconnaissance mission. The commanding officer told Stanley to leave the man behind, but Stanley asked if he could please try to carry him. Stanley put the man on his shoulders and got him to the Medivac.
Stanley kept up his training during his time in the Philippines by lifting buckets filled with cement, makeshift weights made for him by the Filipinos he befriended.
After the Allied victory in 1945, Stanley became the first weightlifter to win three successive world titles in three different classes, setting himself up for the gold in 1948.
When he returned home from the victorious Olympics, he moved to South Florida for the weather and set his sights on Hollywood. He bought a yellow 1949 Pontiac convertible station wagon with leopard-skin seat covers. And he acquired a chimpanzee.
My dad wanted to follow in the footsteps of 1936 Olympian Johnny Weissmuller, who became Tarzan, Richard recalled. My dad wanted to be the next Tarzan. He got a screen test but didnt get the role.
Stanley had the matinee good looks, but he was short.
Later in life, he lamented that Hawaiian Harold Sakata, whom Stanley beat by 100 pounds to win the gold medal, ended up in the movies, playing Oddjob in James Bonds Goldfinger.
Stanley would win three more world titles and a silver medal in the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki, Finland. He also competed in bodybuilding contests during this time, becoming Mr. Miami, Mr. All-South Florida and Mr. Florida.
It was in Miami that he met his wife Dorothy, who was selling suntan lotion at a South Beach hotel. Family lore has it that Dorothy threw her sister in the pool so that the good-looking guy would save her and they would meet.
Stanley opened a gym and health club for a short time but soon put his sights on becoming the worlds best bowler. In 1955 he opened the 32-lane Bowling Palace west of Miami Shores.
He was a steady bowler but never became great. The bowling business slowly went downhill. Stanley dealt with the stress of piled-up bills by drinking too much and overeating, his once perfect physique ballooning to nearly 240 pounds. But it wasnt until Stanley suffered a debilitating stroke at age 62 that he shut the place down after nearly three decades.
Thats when my dad rediscovered his Olympic spirit, Richard said.
Doctors said Stanley might not live through the night, and after he did, they said he would never walk again. Stanley proved them wrong, living more than a decade after the stroke and fighting hard to walk again, first with a walker and then with just a cane.
He gardened, played cards, traveled with Dorothy and doted on his family.
I am proud of my dad, said Richard, 67. He won his gold medal so long ago, and he has been gone so many years. But he truly had an amazing, wonderful life.