My grandfather, Rex Todhunter Stout was born in Noblesville, Indiana, December 1, 1886. He was the sixth of nine children born to John and Lucetta Todhunter Stout. Educated in Kansas, he was recognized as a prodigy in arithmetic. After a brief time on campus at the University of Kansas, he quit school to enlist in the Navy where he spent two years as warrant officer on board President Theodore Roosevelt’s yacht.
After the Navy, he began to write and tried his hand at a variety of jobs. With his brother, Robert, Stout devised and implemented a school banking system. Bank Day proved a very successful venture and allowed Stout to move to Paris and write full-time.
He published three novels before he turned to the mystery genre. The books received favorable reviews but were not best sellers. Stout returned to the United States and built a house on the Connecticut-New York state line. Fer-de-Lance, my grandfather’s first Nero Wolfe novel, appeared in 1934.
More than seventy other Nero Wolfe books and stories followed. During World War II, Rex Stout waged a personal campaign against Nazism serving as chairman of the War Writers Board,wrote and broadcast the CBS radio program “Our Secret Weapon,”and was a member of several national committees. After the war, he resumed writing Nero Wolfe novels. In 1959 he won the Mystery Writers of America’s Grand Master Award. My grandfather died October 27, 1975 at the age of 88. A month before his death, he published his final Nero Wolfe book, A Family Affair.
My grandfather was recently inducted in the the New York State Writers Hall of Fame.
On a personal note, my grandfather was very much a family man. He built the family home, High Meadow, near Brewster, NY, around the time of his marriage to Pola Weinbach in 1932. My grandparents raised their two daughters, Becky and Barbara at High Meadow. My grandfather worked primarily from High Meadow. His hobbies included raising virtually all of our family’s produce and poultry, kept various pets, including a pony, maintained over 300 house plants as well as large and admired iris beds (almost 200 varieties of bearded irises and over 100 varieties of day lilies), building his own furniture, and being a baseball fan of the Giants, then, after their move, the Mets.